Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ashrawi denies reports: PLO will not be paid off with its withheld tax revenues to drop UN bid

PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi issued a press release on Thursday saying she "strongly denies" that the PLO would be paid off with its withheld tax revenues in order to drop its bid for membership in the UN.

The Ha'aretz report, citing unnamed European diplomats, said the PLO would freeze all moves to achieve full membership for Palestine in various UN agencies until the end of January if Israel let go of the $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues it had withheld as punishment for Palestine joining UNESCO.

“This report is completely untrue, and the Israeli media tools are not the source of information for the Palestinian positions and decisions,” Ashrawi said. “The report is a new Israeli maneuver and an attempt to create confusion to stop the Palestinian bid to the UN." more

36% of essential medicines in short supply in Gaza says MSF, lives of kidney patients threatened

Health facilities in the Gaza Strip face a serious shortage of drugs and medical supplies. In late September, 36% of essential drugs were lacking. While MSF makes regular donations, no aid actor can meet the full range of needs.

The Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip, which began in 2007, together with years of financial crisis within the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the chronic lack of cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Gaza authorities, have caused harm and threaten Gaza's health system and its patients.

Last spring, drug companies stopped supplying the Palestinian Authority. The situation, which had been worsening steadily for several years, deteriorated further in 2011 and has reached an alarming level.

As Israeli bombs struck the Gaza Strip in mid-August, local health authorities called on international aid actors working in the area for help. Since that time, they have asked for donations on a regular, long-term basis. However, no humanitarian actor – including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – has the financial and/or logistical resources to provide the drugs and medical supplies needed by the Territory's health facilities.

164 essential drugs completely unavailable

Stock-outs represent a real threat to patient health. In late September 2011, 164 essential drugs (36% of necessary supplies, compared to 25% in 2010) were completely unavailable. Only 260 of the 900 required medical supply items (specifically, single-use items) were supplied. For now, UNRWA clinics, run by the U.N. relief agency for Palestinian refugees, provide patients with chronic illnesses access to treatment.

The medical areas most affected are:

* surgery;

* intensive care (certain anesthetics are lacking altogether);

* hemodialysis;

* treatments to prevent organ transplant rejection;

* oncology;

* hematology (no coagulants);

* psychiatric medications (only 33 of the 46 essential psychiatric drugs are available);

* ophthalmology (all eye surgeries have been halted);

* maternity;

* pediatrics and catheterization laboratory procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

The five medical centers that treat kidney disease in Gaza will face drug shortages within a few weeks and their patients' lives will then be in grave danger. more