Health is a critical political objective towards peace and justice

March 04, 2009


In his Comment which introduces The Lancet Series on Health in The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Lancet Editor Dr Richard Horton says that: "The goal of this to change the way health professional, politicians, policy makers, media, and the public view, think about, and discuss the predicament facing this region of the Middle East."

He concludes: "Our ultimate hope is that this Series could contribute to a mass international social movement for peace and justice through health in, and with the people of, the occupied Palestinian land. Justice in this context is about fashioning a fair and sustainable future for the people of Palestine. Health can be a magnetic nucleus to draw together the necessary critical mass of agreement to make this idea more than simply an aspiration."

The Lancet Press Office T) +44 (0) 20 7424 4949 E)

For full Comment see:


Former US President Jimmy Carter discusses the hopes for a Palestinian peace agreement in the second Comment in The Lancet Series on Health in The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

He says: "This Lancet Series on Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory highlights the important relation between human security and sustainable peace in the Holy Land. By shedding more light on the public-health challenges at hand, be they maternal and child health, trauma, or the transition from infectious to non-communicable diseases, the Series provides a basis for understanding the greater picture of need in Palestine. The Series also includes solutions to improving the Palestinian health-care system, with an emphasis on primary care."

"Under the new Obama Administration in the USA, there is hope that the USA and other members of the Quartet (European Union, Russia, and the UN) might achieve a sustainable peace settlement. Already, President Obama has taken steps for this effort to begin in earnest by appointing a proven peacemaker and skilled negotiator, Senator George Mitchell, as his envoy to the area."

Former President Carter concludes: "People everywhere share the dream of a caring global community that prevents unnecessary suffering from disease, war, and oppression. This Series should give the international community added urgency to resolve this enduring conflict and bring both Palestinians and Israelis the peace, health, and hope they deserve."

Former US President Jimmy Carter, The Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Via Deanna Congileo, Press Secretary to Former President Carter, The Carter Center. T) +1 404 420 5117 E)

For full Comment see:


Since 1999, the UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has been working to establish a sustainable teaching programme in child health in the occupied Palestinian territory. The aim was and is to upgrade the knowledge and skills of doctors and nurses who work with children. The issues are discussed in a Comment which accompanies The Lancet Series on Health in The Occupied Palestinian Territory, written by RCPCH President Dr Patricia Hamilton, and Dr Anthony Waterston, RCPCH and Newcastle University, UK, and colleagues.

They conclude: "The current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is damaging to child health because it impedes access and disrupts the social network which is necessary for child wellbeing, especially in the rural community. In Gaza, the situation is particularly perilous and we have no programme there at present, even though it was the initial focus for our work. We hope to start teaching in Gaza as soon as it is possible to enter and travel safely. As an organisation which sees children's rights as fundamental to child health, the RCPCH will advocate for measures that will allow children everywhere to attend school without fear, live in economic security, have access to a high standard of health care, and be free from the effects of violence."

Dr Anthony Waterston, RCPCH and Newcastle University, UK. T) +44 (0) 20 70926005/6 E)

For full Comment see:


In the final Comment which accompanies The Lancet Series on Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) says that the Palestinian refugees outside the OPT must not be forgotten.

They say: "The data depict a complex situation, with emerging diseases and chronic and endemic unsolved health problems. Although UNRWA has effectively assisted refugees so far, their increasing economic vulnerability makes them increasingly dependent. The future of Palestinian refugees will be conditioned by how children are followed up in their development and growth, how women are protected from negative outcomes of pregnancy, and how the adult population is treated and counselled for leading diseases. By providing the best possible primary-health-care services, UNRWA is enabling these refugees to hold their destiny in their own hands."

"These refugees do need remembering as well, in addition to those populations described in The Lancet Series on health in the occupied Palestinian territory."

Dr Guido Sabatinelli, Director of the Health Programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Amman, Jordan. T) +962 77 6760097 E) or

For full Comment see:


The solution to improve health and welfare lies in justice, sovereignty, and self-determination for Palestinians. This is the conclusion of a Comment which accompanies The Lancet Series on Health in The Occupied Palestinian Territory, written by Andrea Becker, Katharine Al Ju'beh, and Graham Watt, of Medical Aid for Palestinians, London, UK.

As a UK charity, formed in response to the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, MAP has 25 years of experience working for the health and dignity of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in Lebanon, where over 200 000 Palestinians live in refugee camps, generations after the 1948 war.

The authors conclude: "For too long, the health and welfare of Palestinians within the occupied territory have been secondary to powerful outside interests. As Virchow might have put it, the solution lies in justice, sovereignty, and self-determination for the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

Andrea Becker, Medical Aid for Palestinians, London, UK. T) +44 (0) 7795 165 052 E)

For full Comment see:


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