Bulletin #65: The siege on health in Palestine continues

This fortnight

More and more hospitals in the Gaza Strip are shutting down operations as Israeli attacks persist for over 70 days. Health workers, patients, and those sheltering in the buildings face increased risks of the spread of infectious diseases, in addition to being exposed to constant bombardments and raids.

In addition to the everyday violence exerted against local health staff, Israeli Occupying Forces have cracked down on convoys delivering essential supplies to health facilities inside Gaza. The World Health Organization has repeatedly called for a ceasefire—a call reasserted by the members of the WHO Executive Board through supporting a resolution on the free flow of aid into the Gaza Strip. Similar calls have been echoed by trade unions across the world, including in the United States.

South Africa is grappling with a health workforce shortage as health workers leave due to neoliberal policies, particularly austerity. Countries in Eastern Europe are facing a similar kind of problem, as their own public health systems cannot provide adequate working conditions. This is evident in Poland, where a prolonged period of governance by the Law and Justice party did not bring structural responses to the issue. With the election of a new center-right government, it remains unclear if things will change in the upcoming period.

Understaffing and underfunding of public health systems mean that health services are not able to respond to everyone's needs, leaving many to cope without institutional support. In Chicago, the health needs of a large, recently-arrived migrant population remain mostly unaddressed, with most of the response being undertaken by volunteers and mutual aid groups.

Despite volunteers and activists playing a key role in identifying gaps in healthcare and building alternative visions, their presence continues to be undermined by corporate players and governments alike. After the publication of an article criticizing the presence of fossil fuel companies at global health conferences, the People’s Health Movement and the British Medical Journal were removed from the organizing committee of the Prince Mahidol Awards Conference.

In Turkey, the Turkish Medical Association faces another wave of attacks against its activities, with all elected Central Council members being removed by a court at the end of November. Despite attempts to curtail their work, the physicians’ organization has vowed to continue fighting for health workers’ rights.

In focus: Health in Palestine

Health workers detained and tortured, hospitals under siege: The state of health in Gaza

The number of functioning hospitals in the Gaza Strip is falling by the hour as Israel continues targeted attacks against healthcare

WHO Executive Board adopts resolution calling for unimpeded flow of aid into Gaza

During discussions around the resolution, US representatives opposed calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be “not only unrealistic but also dangerous.” Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza has killed over 18,000 people

More health workers, patients, killed in Gaza as US vetoes ceasefire resolution

The US once again vetoed a ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council, enabling more Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip

The ‘brain drain’ is a symptom of how capitalism has failed the healthcare sector

Every year, thousands of healthcare workers leave South Africa, in order to chase better opportunities, as wealthier countries exploit desperate working conditions faced by them. This brain drain is a direct result of neoliberal policies, especially austerity

Could Poland see a progressive health policy with the new Tusk government?

As Poland prepares for a change in government, it remains unclear how the new coalition will address concerns in the health system

Chicago’s migrant communities forced to rely on mutual aid for healthcare

Health care provision for migrants in Chicago remains reliant on mutual aid and volunteer initiatives as winter approaches. Over 21,000 migrants, primarily from Latin America, have come to Chicago since August 2022

Censorship of grassroots voices at global health conference raises concerns

The People’s Health Movement was removed from the organizing committee of the Prince Mahidol Awards Conference following an article criticizing presence of fossil fuel companies at public health events

Turkish Medical Association confronts new wave of attacks

The board of the Turkish Medical Association was dissolved by a court decision. This is the latest in a long list of repressive acts faced by the organization

Short reads

Largest health workers union in United States calls for ceasefire

Support for a ceasefire is growing among the US labor movement as 1199 SEIU joins the global movement

Climate breakdown to bring new challenges to health in the UK

The global rise of temperatures is set to change the health landscape in the UK, with the appearance of new and infectious diseases, growing risk of antimicrobial resistance

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