For 31 years, the mobile clinic of Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) has been operating in the West Bank and Gaza. Hundreds of volunteers—doctors from Israel’s medical community and health staff—use their vacation time and days off to provide medical care to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. For the past 17 years, PHRI used the occasion of International Women’s Day to set up special clinics to address women’s health.
Israeli gynecologist Dr. Raida Kashur set up a clinic in a Gaza refugee camp earlier this month. Dr. Kashur recounts, “From the moment I entered Gaza, I was sad. The waiting area for my treatment room in the refugee camp was packed, with more than a hundred women waiting for treatment. I treated about forty of them. I saw multiple cases of cancer, mostly of women under 50, made clear that Gaza does not have enough awareness of breast and cervical cancer.”
She added, “We provide medical treatment, deliver training to doctors and undertake patient education. But a key part is simply to provide medications that are simply not available in Gaza. There is a huge shortage of medical equipment there. Even vitamins – for example, folic acid, which is important for pregnant women, is in short supply. And there is no calcium. And, even if there are enough vitamins and medicines on the shelves, people don’t have the money to pay for them,” she said.
“There were moments in the day when the power was suddenly cut off. The women told me that the electricity goes out for eight hours and returns for eight hours. By the end of the day, when we drove at night on the main road, everything was dark.”
Dr. Kashur’s experience illustrates the dire need for more aid and healthcare infrastructure in Gaza. NIF continues to support the life-saving, humanitarian work of PHRI, which works to advocate for the rights to health of marginalized populations in Israel and throughout the occupied territories.