Bulletin #73: 5th People's Health Assembly focuses on war's toll amidst Gaza crisis

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This fortnight

For over six months, Israel has waged an unprecedented war on health workers and health infrastructure in Palestine. The recent attacks on Al-Shifa Hospital, which saw Israeli armed forces destroy Gaza's once-largest health institution, have been described as a devastating act against the heart of the Strip’s health system.

Despite this, support and solidarity for health workers in Palestine continue to grow worldwide. In Belgium, the organization Doctors for the People has made it a priority to extend solidarity to the health sector in Palestine, building upon their collaboration with the organization AWDA.

Solidarity with Palestine was a focal point at the launch of the 5th People's Health Assembly (PHA 5), held from April 7 to 11 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The Assembly gathered over 600 activists, health workers, and researchers to explore the future of global health amid political and economic crises.

Participants of the Assembly are addressing challenges through five thematic axes, focusing on the transformation of health systems, including the planning and financing of public health systems. In the lead-up to the PHA, and with the Indian election cycle in view, health activists unveiled a Health Manifesto that outlines priorities to ensure universal access to healthcare.

India is also facing significant changes to regulations in the field of intellectual property and patents. Revisions of patent rules are now threatening to reduce access to medicines not only in India, but in other countries as well.

Discussions at the Assembly also cover the Pandemic Treaty, especially significant following the World Health Organization members’ recent decision to extend negotiations around the new mechanism.

Finally, the Assembly will delve into issues concerning gender justice in health, the impact of war and occupation on health, ancestral knowledge, and ecosystem health. Within this thematic stream, conversations will also tackle food systems. This includes initiatives like the one recently introduced in Brazil, where introducing taxation on ultra-processed food could bring substantial health benefits.

In focus: Health in Palestine

In Palestine, healthcare is also a form of resistance

General practitioner Hanne Bosselaers sheds light on the importance of health work in maintaining a sense of community and resistance in Palestine, and solidarity actions that health workers can join

Israel has ripped the heart out of Gaza’s health system by destroying Al-Shifa Hospital

Through its latest vicious set of attacks against healthcare in Gaza, Israel leaves no doubts that it is set to destroy all remaining health infrastructure in the Strip

Executions, detentions, and sexual violence: Israel’s brutal siege on Al-Shifa Hospital

People sheltering at Al-Shifa Hospital give accounts on even more violence and humiliation as Israeli forces carry out some of the worst attacks yet

In focus

5th People’s Health Assembly begins in Mar del Plata

Hundreds of health activists are gathering at the 5th People’s Health Assembly to discuss strategies for health justice amid the crisis in Argentina and the Israeli war on Gaza

India’s newly amended patent rules threaten affordable medicines in the Global South

New amendments to patent rules in India will jeopardize the country’s ability to produce generics, dealing a strong blow to access to medicines in both India and other countries of the Global South

Candidates in India’s election must prioritize health, suggest activists

Health network Jan Swasthya Abhiyan recently launched the People’s Health Manifesto, calling upon all parties running in India’s election to commit to improve the quality and access to care in the country

WHO negotiations for Pandemic Treaty extended due to disagreements

WHO members failed to agree on a final version of the new Pandemic Treaty which is to be adopted at the upcoming World Health Assembly in May. Global North countries are resisting calls for suspension of intellectual property claims on essential products, including vaccines

The urgency of taxing ultra-processed foods in Brazil

A new tax reform in Brazil foresees a tax to discourage the consumption of ultra-processed foods, linked to 57,000 deaths a year — but the industry is fighting back

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