The Palestinian Authority

  • International staff: 8
  • National staff: 14

    Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority have seen little improvement in their living conditions since the signing of the Olso Accords in 1993. Restrictions on movement imposed by Israel continue, and rights violations by the Palestinian government are a regular occurrence. As political leaders pursue a difficult peace, this climate of tension and violence continues to take its toll on the population.

    A weakened mother-child bond takes its toll on children

    Malnutrition among young Palestinian children is often linked not to lack of food, but to a weakened emotional link between mothers and their children - one result of the difficulty and stress in the mothers' daily lives. The consequences for the children can be devastating and include mental and physical problems, and death. Since 1996, MSF psychologists have been working to help reestablish the mother-child bond, and to train local health professionals in caring for mothers and their children.

    The program, based in Hebron, has followed more than 350 women since its inception. A Palestinian psychologist is now in charge of the project.

    In six centers located in the main cities of the West Bank, MSF has also given psychological care to ex-detainees who suffer from psychological disorders as a result of detention in Israeli prisons. MSF intends to transfer both programs in Hebron to local organizations before the end of 2000, while launching a psychological support project for mothers and children in Gaza.

    In Hebron, support for primary care

    MSF also works within the Hebron health district to improve access to primary care, rehabilitate clinics, improve the health information system, and train community health workers. In the Yatta region, in the southern part of this district, MSF has begun a pilot program to improve the quality of health services available to the population, including the Bedouins living in the Nakab desert.

    In response to a measles outbreak in May 1999, the organization offered logistical and technical support to the Hebron and Ramallah health authorities. This effort, together with a tetanus vaccination campaign in August 1999, has helped MSF gain access to an even broader part of the Palestinian population.