MdM is implementing health programmes in the Northern West Bank since 1999 and in the Gaza strip since 2002. The increasingly recurrent attacks of settlers in the West Bank and Israeli military operations such as ‘Pillar of Defense’ in November 2012 continue to negatively impact the well-being of Palestinian populations. Therefore, in 2013, MdM remains committed to strengthen emergency response capacities and to improve mental health care for Palestinians.
The Palestinian villages in the Northern West Bank are regularly targeted by Israeli military operations and settlers’ attacks. Nablus governorate concentrates a high number of Israeli settlements, checkpoints and roadblocks which are hindering Palestinians’ access to health care, in particular in case of an emergency. The situation is also strongly impacting their psychological state. In 2011, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported Nablus governorate as one of the areas most prone to settlers’ violence. These attacks, whose number multiplied by four over three years, have strong material, human and psychological consequences for the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages.
In 2012, to improve psychosocial services in nine villages of the Nablus governorate, MdM conducted trainings on detection and referral of mental health disorders for 37 medical staff working in mental health community centres and 20 social workers and teachers in 12 primary schools. To reduce the stigmatisation of people with mental disorders, 773 people participated in the awareness activities on mental health issues organised by MdM.
Additionally, MdM works on emergency preparedness in the villages most affected by the conflict. In 2012, 102 people took MdM first aid and advanced trainings. MdM encourages the creation of emergency committees in the communities which can manage crisis situations and provides them with necessary equipment.
In 2012, MdM set up a crisis cell able to bring basic support to the communities right after an attack. Within 72 hours, an emergency post-trauma team is sent on the ground, and starts conducting needs’ assessment and debriefing and counselling sessions. Since June 2012, MdM intervened after 30 attacks and carried out 600 individual debriefing sessions, including 500 for children.
In November 2012, the Gaza strip was the scene of yet another Israeli military operation. During eight days, 1 342 airstrikes were reported, which wounded more than 1 500 people, killed 200 and displaced 8 000.
In this context of instability and permanent crisis, MdM aims to improve the access of the population to health care during emergencies by supporting local health structures. MdM strengthens the capacities of 11 emergency rooms implemented in primary health care centres in training the medical staff. Since the creation of these emergency rooms at the initiative of MdM in 2010, they constantly received more and more emergency cases, thus reducing the overload on hospitals; 47 047 patients were treated in the 11 emergency rooms in 2012.
MdM trained 3 500 community volunteers in first aid techniques. In 2012, at least 557 emergency cases have been managed by these volunteers, in particular during military operations thus reducing the morbidity of the people affected by the conflict. MdM also encourages the implementation of emergency committees in villages and advocates towards the Ministry of Health in order to better respond to emergencies and better coordinate the different actors.