Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has sent a letter to The Honorable Dr. Mai Kaila, Palestine’s new Minister of Health, urging her to approve continued access of Palestinian patients to treatment at Israeli hospitals. Al Mezan’s letter follows a recent decision by the Ministry of Health dictating that patients would no longer be referred to Israeli hospitals. At the time, Al Mezan expressed concern at the impact the decision has had on patients with ongoing treatment at Israeli hospitals. According to the criteria in the decision, these patients should be excluded as they are not new referrals. In practice, however, the decision still seems to apply to them, putting their health and life at risk.
In the letter, Al Mezan stressed the need for further nationalizing healthcare as a means of reducing costs of referral for treatments abroad. “This step should be preceded by development of the healthcare sector and expansion of health programs,” Al Mezan stated in the letter. “A more integrated approach should be sought, with actions to renovate, rehabilitate, and improve infrastructural capacities. More expenditure is needed to equip health centers with necessary equipment, such as diagnostic and therapeutic facilities, and to invest in human resources. Also, supplies of medicines and medical necessities should be provided on a regular and sufficient basis.”
Al Mezan concluded its letter with wishes for success for Dr. Kaila as she embarks on her new role amid pressing political and economic challenges. Given ongoing deterioration of the Palestinian healthcare sector, implications of which are aggravated by high rates of poverty and unemployment, patients needing referral to Israeli hospitals should be afforded such access.