Basic health care provision for vulnerable Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank is under threat due to a shortfall in funding.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in an update published this week as part of periodic reporting by UN OCHA, at the end of 2019 "mobile clinic coverage of communities in Area C fell from 85 to 60 per cent of people in need", due to "severe funding shortages".
More than 100 Palestinian communities which are home to some 162,000 residents in 'Area C' of the occupied West Bank – which is under full Israeli civil control – "have limited or no access to primary healthcare and are therefore in need of mobile clinics services".
As noted by the WHO update, this critical absence is "primarily because of the restrictive Israeli planning regime, which prevents the construction of the necessary facilities, as well as the prevailing access and movement restrictions, which impedes access to main service centres."
"These restrictions on access to basic health services are one component of a coercive environment affecting many Palestinians across the West Bank, particularly in Area C," the WHO added.
According to the report, "other elements" include "the demolition and threat of demolition of homes, schools and livelihoods lacking issued building permits; denial of service infrastructure; access restrictions on farming and grazing land; poor law enforcement on violent settlers; the active promotion of 'relocation' plans; and revocation of residency rights, among others."
For 2020, WHO and its partners are seeking $2.7 million "to ensure access to essential primary health care services, through mobile clinics, in the West Bank".
"These resources would enable WHO to deliver services to 176 communities and expand coverage to more than 120,000 out of the more than 160,000 in need."
Mahmoud, a resident of Frush Beit Dajan in the Jordan Valley, told the WHO how "due to Israeli planning policies, we haven't been able to build a proper clinic".
A mobile structure, originally provided as a children's play area, must double both as a clinic and a village meeting room. We're surrounded by three settlements and a checkpoint and there is no public transport, so it's challenging getting to the nearest hospital, a 40-kilometer drive away.
"The most important thing for humans is access to health for life. It's about securing dignity, access to health and education and life saving measures," he added.