A proposal for the establishment of a healthcare network in Palestine

No people have suffered aggression, harm, tyranny, oppression, war crimes and massacres as much as the Palestinians have at the hands of the Israeli occupation army.

Martyrs sacrificed their lives for the sake of their homeland and have moved on to heaven, and the real suffering remained on the ground. Tens of thousands of wounded Palestinians suffer day and night. Some of them have lost their eyesight, others have lost their hearing, and thousands have lost limbs -” permanent disabilities left by the Israeli aggression in the bodies of thousands of Palestinian men and women.

Thousands of children and adults have suffered complex psychological disorders due to the aggression.

The environment has been polluted and disease has spread. The water is contaminated and carries with it various types of germs and disease.

All this was left by the Israeli aggression, and is committed every day by the Israeli aggression. We read and hear of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of wounded Palestinians and patients who receive treatment at hospitals in Israel, Jordan and Egypt. We hear and read of the inability of the hospitals and clinics in Palestine to handle thousands of cases. Why?!

Where is the Palestinian Authority’s plan for this field -” the field of healthcare for the citizens who sacrifice for the sake of our homeland, cling to its land and trees, and defend it in the face of Israeli expansionist pursuits?

We have heard and read a great deal about the medical assistance that has poured into Palestine since the Israeli aggression began in 2000. Medical aid had also poured in during the first Palestinian Intifada. Despite all this however we find that in 2005 the conditions of medical institutions have not improved to a level that would enable them to handle such cases.

We find the citizen suffering from the inability to treat himself and his family because of the bad economic conditions, and the high price of medicine, medical test fees, x-rays, etc.

How long will this condition go on for? Who is responsible? Where does the medical aid and the medicine donated by countries, Red Crescent and Red Cross committees and other humanitarian bodies, go?

The time has come to begin a serious effort to find radical solutions for this tragedy suffered by the citizens. This requires that a comprehensive healthcare system (health insurance) be put in place to meet the needs of all the citizens, and protect them from having to "beg" for medical treatment and medicine.

Every citizen has the right to free medical care. This must be the purpose of writing the laws needed to establish a healthcare institution for Palestinian citizens.

This matter is not complicated enough to force officials to avoid confronting it or avoid starting on it. The population in the various governorates of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is known. The medical treatment for the diseases is also known. The medical institutions that have been established so far are known, and the doctors who work in them know their shortages and what is needed to raise the level of the institutions and the level of their performance.

The basic idea is for each citizen to have a medical center that he can visit to have his condition treated, and for this center to then transfer him to a specialized medical center if it is needed to receive treatment specific to his condition.

First step: Clinics and infirmaries

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Local Government shall be assigned the task of drawing up a plan to build infirmaries and clinics in all the governorates in a way that will have these clinics, run by doctors and nurses, meet the needs of all the villages, towns and refugee camps in the governorates.

The two ministries shall be assigned the task of presenting a study that includes the cost of meeting the shortage in needs to complete this essential network in the healthcare system -” essential because these clinics are the ones that will organize the citizens’ preliminary medical files and will store them in computers to be a medical reference when needed.

Second step: Hospitals

The second step is to assign the Ministry of Health the task of preparing a study to complete the network of hospitals in all the governorates in a way to enable these hospitals to meet the needs of the citizens of the governorate. Completing the network includes eliminating the shortage found in existing hospitals at the moment, establishing new hospitals based on the population, modernizing the equipment in these hospitals and enforcing a strict system for hygiene and sterilization and needed medical equipment, and staffing these hospitals with medical teams according to standards in modern hospitals around the world. The ministry shall present a report on the expected cost of modernizing existing hospitals and eliminating the shortage in its departments and sections, as well as the cost of building, equipping and operating new hospitals needed to meet the needs of the citizens in every governorate.

Third Step: Specialized hospitals

The Ministry of Health shall be assigned the task of drawing up a list of specialized hospitals needed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people. Examples of such hospitals are:

– A hospital specialized in cancer.

– A hospital specialized in chest diseases.

– An eye hospital.

– A hospital specialized in physical therapy, artificial limbs and the rehabilitation of those who have suffered loss of limbs.

– A mental health hospital.

Studies shall be made on the expected cost of setting up these specialized hospitals.

Fourth step: Medicine and scientific research colleges:

The Ministry of Health and an independent committee of academics in the field of medicine shall be assigned the task of preparing a vision for raising the level of medical colleges and developing them, as well as developing the research departments at qualified universities.

Some may think that these proposed steps are only dreams, and that the Palestinians cannot set up such a healthcare network, but I say that this is possible and is achievable if a responsible committee closely follows up on the various stages of this project.

The Palestinian people have friends and supporters, and have the ability, energy and desire to accomplish this.

The areas of aiding the Palestinian people in carrying out this project are numerous, starting with the citizen himself -” the monthly fee he will pay for this medical insurance will be the corner stone. The essential aid for the foundation work however will come from Arab countries; from ministries of health, Red Crescent societies, or humanitarian societies in these countries.

The second source is the European countries, be it from the European Union as an international bloc or from those countries individually. A country in this bloc has the desire and the ability to meet the needs of the Palestinian people in this specific field.

Then come the other countries of the world, among them Japan, the United States, China, the Islamic countries, the non-aligned countries and the countries of Latin America.

Manufacturing the medicine is not a dilemma, but an issue that can be easily resolved.

This way the Palestinian Authority can fulfill its debt to the citizen who is sacrificing for the homeland, holding on to the land and clinging to it, and defending it in the face of Israeli expansionist pursuits.

Healthcare is the right of every citizen.