Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance studies life under seige

How did Palestinian women who gave birth during Israel’s 2009 month-long seize of Gaza fare? What are the meal patterns of West Bank adolescents? How do birth rates and risks for heart disease among Palestinian women living in refugee camps compare to that of women in the United States and Europe? Have Swedish and Norwegian efforts to develop a program for people with disabilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip been successful?

Sixteen peer-reviewed abstracts from the second Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (free registration) conference that explored these and other health issues facing people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories were published online July 3. The conference was held at Birzeit University in the West Bank in early March.

Lancet editor Richard Horton said the research “gives a very rich and somewhat frightening snapshot on what life is like on the Strip right now.” He said the reports provide scientific evidence that the occupation is destroying people and their future prospects through collective punishment.

Listen to a podcast with Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, describing the project

Some of the studies were funded by international organizations including Medical Aid for Palestinians–UK, World Food Programme, World Health Organization, UN, Ford Foundation, The British Council, MEAwards, the Palestinian American Research Council., and several Swedish and Norwegian government agencies.

The goal of the alliance is to “nurture and encourage a network of local and international scientists to do work that would advance the health of Palestinains in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the wider Palestinian diaspora, according to the Lancet.

A third alliance conference will take place Birzeit University next March.

Summaries of presentations from the March 2009 meeting Health as human security in the occupied Palestinian territory (free registration) are also available on the Lancet website.  

Kathlyn Stone

Kathlyn Stone is a Twin Cities, Minnesota-based writer who has covered general news, and business, international trade, and health care news and policies for public and professional audiences.