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Health Care Another Victim of Gaza Blockade

Restriction of movement prevents patients seeking treatment, hospital workers getting to work

FRIDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The widespread erosion of human rights in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza strip is denying Palestinians access to basic health care and preventing medical schools from functioning properly, according to correspondence published online Jan. 9 in The Lancet.

David Worth of York Hospital in York, the United Kingdom, and colleagues went on a fact-finding tour of the Palestinian territories in November 2008 and report on the effects of restriction of movement on access to health care, lengthy commutes for health care workers and interruption of medical studies.

Under a blockade, residents in Gaza are denied access to essential medical supplies as well as food and fuel, the authors found, and exit permits for treatment outside Gaza are being granted only in exchange for intelligence gathering, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

"Our experience in the West Bank caused us grave concerns, which have been realized more rapidly and devastatingly than any of us could have anticipated, in the current disproportionate attacks by Israeli forces on Gaza," the authors write. "This report is for our colleagues around the world who might be unaware of the deliberate erosion of human rights in both the West Bank and Gaza. We suggest that, in view of the failure of other measures to influence those in power, serious consideration be given to targeted academic and trade boycotts."

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