On Thursday, 7 October 2021, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights sent a letter to the office of Palestinian Health Minister, Dr. Mai al-Kaila, seeking clarification regarding the decline in the average number of monthly referrals of patients in the Gaza Strip for care largely in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.
Every month, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean monitors and reports on the referral of Gaza’s patients. The WHO reports between January and July 2021 show that the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) issued a monthly average of 1,670 referrals for health care services delivered by non-MoH providers for patients from the Gaza Strip, compared to a monthly average of 2,790 in 2019. Meanwhile, the average number of referrals from the West Bank remained stable.
Al Mezan notes that the decline in the number of MoH referrals for patients in the Gaza Strip comes amid the severe deterioration of health determinants here, which has been demonstrated in soaring rates of COVID-19, medical drug shortages, as well as poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, due to Israel’s 14-year closure and years of repeated military attacks that target civilian objects and public infrastructure crucial to the survival of the civilian population.