World Health Day – UN agencies in the OPT call for action to address socio-economic determinants of health – Press release

Press Release
World Health Day 2005 -Make every mother and child count-

Jerusalem, 7 April 2005- On the occasion of the World Health Day 2005 advocating for mother and child health, UN* agencies operating in the occupied Palestinian territory call for action to address the socio-economic determinants of health.

“There are strong reasons to predict a deterioration of the health standards of the Palestinians if these determinants are not improved”, says Ambrogio Manenti, WHO Head of Office for West Bank and Gaza. “Women and children will be the most affected,” he added.

In oPt, unemployment has reached 34.3%, poverty now affects 47% of the Palestinian population, and 16% of the population- and a quarter in Gaza- live in deep poverty. Palestinians have also reduced both the quality and quantity of their food intake due to movement restrictions affecting access to markets and affordability of food. Chronic malnutrition among children under-five has increased to almost 10%. Poverty and food insecurity have increased particularly in the communities near the separation Barrier, where Palestinians are prevented from reaching jobs and markets. Among the first communities affected by the separation Barrier, 83% reported difficulties accessing commodities on the local market and 47% reported that the increases in the price of some commodities has made them unaffordable to the household.

Current Palestinian socio-economic conditions can influence health outcomes, such as life expectancy, infant and child mortality rates, risk of developing chronic diseases, conditions from at risk behaviors. Protective factors and coping mechanisms such as social cohesion, education – particularly of women, measures promoting social equity and protection of the most vulnerable, effective health systems, can only temporarily and only at a certain extent prevent these outcomes.

In this World Health Day, the UN agencies call upon:

• The Israeli authorities to ease movement restrictions enabling a recovery of the Palestinian economy and thus allowing better social and economic conditions for the Palestinian population.

• The Palestinian Authority to provide family universal access to care through targeted programmes, but particularly through extending and strengthening the local health system.

• The international community to support the Palestinians in order to improve the situation and enjoy the right to employment, food, health services and education in accordance with international standards and human rights conventions.

For further information please contact:
Maria Restrepo (WHO): 054 8022757, 02 5400595

World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Program (WFP), United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Office of the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).


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