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MSF in Palestinian Territories, 2010
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The conflict with Israel and the inter-Palestinian conflict within the Palestinian Territories continued to traumatise the population in 2010. Economic, social and political pressures are all making an already poor health situation far worse.
The demand for psychological care is high, but capacity is limited because of a significant shortage of trained medical staff. It can be difficult for people in need of mental healthcare to find help. MSF teams in Gaza, Nablus and Hebron provide psychological care as well as medical and social support to address the traumatic and violent consequences of the conflicts.
Teams have been working in the Gaza Strip since 2000, adapting their activities according to the needs of the population. In 2010, despite having been partially lifted, the blockade was still affecting healthcare, restricting availability, provision for people with special needs, and the general quality of care. One of MSF’s main objectives is to transfer expertise to local Palestinian staff, who are unable to leave the territory for professional training. MSF is also filling specific gaps in medical care, providing specialised surgery (reconstructive and orthopaedic) and rehabilitation for trauma patients, as well as medical and psychosocial assistance to help patients cope after experiencing trauma. In 2010, more than 180 surgical operations were performed and mental health staff held almost 3,400 consultations. The rehabilitation team carried out more than 33,000 physiotherapy sessions.
In the city of Nablus, MSF is running a medical and psychosocial programme for people suffering from trauma because of the conflicts. After therapy, and depending on their needs, patients are referred to MSF doctors and social workers or other aid organisations for more support in resuming everyday life. The team in Nablus extended its activities to Qalqilya, to the west of the city, and more than 2,700 psychological consultations were held in 2010.
In 2010, MSF staff carried out 1,000 individual mental health consultations, more than 350 group counselling sessions and nearly 300 medical consultations in Hebron and East Jerusalem. The majority of patients had suffered violence from Israeli forces or settlers, but others had survived violence related to internal Palestinian disputes, or domestic or sexual violence. MSF has started preparations to extend services to migrants crossing from Egypt and nomadic Bedouins in the neighbouring area of Negev who are in need of medical attention or humanitarian aid.