Al Mezan Center issued today, 30 July 2007, a report on the availability of medicines in the Gaza Strip and the policies and conditions that influence citizens' access to good quality and adequate medicines.
The report investigates the capacity of government and non-government providers of medicines and their efforts to ensure their availability in the Strip.
It found that the capacity of the providers has been seriously hindered under continued international and Israeli sanctions and Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip.
The report looked into the medicines situation in the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), UNRWA, NGOs and the private sector.
The report found that the MoH suffers a shortage in the List of Essential Medicines(LEM), which includes 468 items.
In 2006, the shortage ranged between 120 to 150 items, representing 32% of the LEM.
In the first half of 2007, there was a shortage in 90 to 100 items on average; an improvement if compared with 2006.
The improvement was stimulated by the increase of humanitarian aid by international organizations' to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
Nevertheless, since Hamas' taking over of the Gaza Strip in mid June, the shortage has reached 120 items, representing 25%.
Obviously, the shortage is varying from one month to another, but has been persistent.
It should be noted that these figures were compared to the MoH's LEM, which has not been updated in the pasty six years.
As far as disposables are concerned, such as cotton wool and surgery threads, the shortage has ranged between 150 and 200 items out of about 1000 used by the MoH during the first half of 2007.
The report asserts that the siege imposed on Gaza by Israel, and the sanctions by Israel and the international community have proved to be in grave violation of human rights, particularly their rights to health and life.
Those have extremely hindred the PNA's ability to meet its relevant obligations.
The report also warns about possible grave consequences if the siege and sanctions continue.
The report adds that some of the health related policies adopted by the PNA; especially the budgetary policies have caused serious problems in this area.
It finally recommends an urgent end of the siege imposed on the PNA and opening the crossing points to allow for medicines regular flow into Gaza.
It also stresses that the PNA must allocate more funds for medicines and health services to enable the MoH to meet the growing needs in Gaza, which suffers from extremely high levels of poverty and unemployment.
On the long-term, the report calls the PNA to adopt policies and measures that will ensure the attainment of the standards of the relevant World Health Organization and comply with the health related obligations as enshrined in the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The report is available only in Arabic at the following link: