INTERVENTION BY TURKEY “68th World Health Assembly Agenda Item 20: Health Conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, İncluding East Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan (A 67/41)”
-Let me first thank the Secretariat for the two reports before us. These reports register once more the ongoing sufferings of the Palestinians. We are extremely concerned about their present health conditions.
-We note with regret that people in the occupied territories continue to live in very poor conditions and are being deprived of basic needs. Devastating effects of the Israeli attacks, especially its military operations last year, caused an immense human suffering and loss of lives. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable group, children, are mainly affected by these attacks. The military operation resulted in about thousand new permanent disabilities, 30% among children.
-Universal values and human conscience dictate each and every member of the international community to firmly reject the illegal practices and restrictions on the Palestinian people that undermine their fundamental rights and freedoms. This includes the right to health.
-As underlined in the report, restrictions on movement and access continue. Especially delay and rejection in issuing permits for referral to hospitals in East Jerusalem cause loss of innocent human lives. Many have suffered as a result of their treatment being delayed or refused. Moreover, as stated in the report, 93 % of the ambulances of Palestinian Red Crescent Society were denied direct access through the barriers to hospitals in East Jerusalem.
-The restrictions imposed on the movement of patients, health staff, essential medicine and medical consumables have hindered the functioning and development of the health system. These restrictions and blockade on Palestine are illegal, inhumane and unacceptable.
-In spite of deteriorating conditions, the Palestinian State exerts every effort to provide health care. We are happy that infant and under-five mortality rates continue to decline. However, the main health concern continues to stem from avoidable and preventable causes which are closely associated with the occupation.
-Let me underline another major issue of concern: The health conditions of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. In the report it is stated that access to health services for them lacks transparency. Also, independent external physicians are denied access.
-We commend the efforts of the WHO and other UN agencies working to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian people who have been facing with prevailing dire health conditions.
-However, these valuable efforts do not reach satisfying results due to the extraordinary conditions in the occupied territories. We should not lose sight of the plight of the Palestinians suffering from restrictions in the Gaza Strip.
-We are pleased that Turkey’s humanitarian aid, including fuel and foodstuff as well as medicine which are urgently needed in Gaza, were delivered to the critical centers like hospitals and water/sanitation facilities at a crucial time. Our pledge of 200 million US Dollars at the Cairo Conference on Palestine, “Reconstructing Gaza”, on 12 October last year is a reflection of our unwavering support to the Palestinian people. This amount is being utilized on project basis.
-We also cooperate and support the WHO in providing critical life-saving drugs and medical disposables. We have directly contributed 1.5 million USD to WHO Office in the field.
-However, long-term solutions are urgently needed to avoid greater humanitarian risks.
-The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without any distinction, as enshrined in the WHO Constitution.
-In this vein, we co-sponsor the draft decision and invite all Member States to support it.
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