WHO Appeals to International Donors to Avert Palestinian Health Crisis

by Jayashree on Sep 21 2007 12:48 PM

The World Health Organisation issued an urgent appeal on Wednesday for international donors to fund essential drugs and medical supplies to avert a Palestinian health crisis.

Palestinian health minister Fathi Moghli and Ambrogio Manenti, WHO head in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, warned at a news conference that drug supplies in the Palestinian territories would be in jeopardy in six months.

"An in-depth assessment by WHO and the health ministry shows bleak forecasts for as early as March 2008," the UN agency said, warning of "potential dramatic consequences on the drug supply flow" if funds get stuck in the pipeline.

"WHO wishes to express its deep concern regarding the likelihood of acute shortages of medical items in 2008 in the occupied Palestinian territory if donors' financial commitments are further delayed," it added.

"In order to prevent acute shortages in essential drugs and avert a humanitarian health crisis next year, WHO urges the international community to pledge funds for essential drugs, medical supplies and disposables for 2008."

Moghli said a 42 million dollars (30 million euros) were needed to cover Palestinian needs for 2008.

"This is a huge amount of money ... We (the Palestinian Authority) are not able to cover the whole amount so we urge all of you to start preparing to help us," said the member of the pro-Western government in the West Bank.

He accused the Hamas authorities in Gaza, where the Islamist movement seized control violently in June, of "intervening in health care provision" following arrests in hospitals and what he called "humiliating" staff.

The minister said his government, which Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appointed after Hamas seized Gaza, was developing a national health plan for the next three years.

"Within two to three weeks, our plan for the year 2008 will be ready and our budget for 2008 will be ready and by November the whole national plan for the Palestinian Authority ... for the coming three years will be ready," he said.