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PCHR Warns of Repercussions on Health Situation Due to Cleaning Workers’ Strike at Hospitals and Governmental Facilities in the Gaza Strip

Ref: 94/2017

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The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the Minister of Health’s decision to pay off urgent financial dues to the cleaning and food companies working in the Gaza Strip hospitals in order to avoid a health disaster  that would affect medical services due to suspending all hygiene works. This threatens the patients and workers’ lives because of the dangerous accumulation of medical garbage inside departments and rooms.

In light of PCHR’s follow-up of developments in health situations, on Wednesday, 27 December 2017, doctors and workers at the Gaza Strip hospitals suspended their work on grounds of cleaning workers’ strike at hospital and governmental facilities due to not receiving their financial dues. This strike would result in a health disaster, which may affect the lives and safety of patients and medical staff working in those facilities in addition to the safety of the visitors and patients’ companions.

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On Tuesday, 26 December 2017 about 832 cleaning companies staff in the Gaza Strip hospitals declared their strike due to not receiving their financial dues. As a result, all the Gaza Strip hospitals suspended their work, including al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City that stopped surgical operations, except urgent ones.

Ashraf al-Qedrah, spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the suspension of cleaning companies’ work in the governmental health facilities will have serious repercussions on the lives of over 1300 patients, including patients in intensive care units (ICU), surgical operation rooms, obstetrics ward and special care baby unit (SCBU), nephrology patients, and surgical, internal medicine, cardiology, and oncology departments. Additionally, health services in 11 blood banks and 50 medical laboratories, where thousands of medical tests and blood transfusions are being conducted, will be affected as well.

Abdul Latif Al-Hajj, General Director of Hospitals in the Ministry of Health, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that doctors in all the Gaza Strip hospitals suspended their work, except conducting serious operations, in protest against the unsafe environment caused by the suspension of cleaning companies’ work. Safe services can not be provided to patients while garbage and fouling are accumulated in the Ministry of Health’s hospital departments. He added that the Ministry of Health in an effort to ease the current crisis began referring patients to the Red Crescent Society (al-Quds Hospital). Moreover, the hospitals in the Gaza Strip also began coordinating with the Medical Treatment Abroad to ensure that patients are transferred abroad for treatment.

Jawad Awad, the Palestinian Minister of Health, issued a decision to disburse NIS 1.8 million for each of the cleaning and food companies working in the Gaza Strip hospitals as a prelude to solve the problem of the accumulating financial dues for these companies.

In light of the deterioration of health situation in the Gaza Strip governmental facilities and the Minister of Health’s decision to pay off a payment of the accumulating financial dues for the cleaning and food companies, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights:

  • Welcomes the Palestinian Minister of Health’s decision to pay off NIS 1.8 million as an urgent payment of the accumulating financial dues for the cleaning and food companies working in governmental health facilities, enabling them to pay salaries and wages of workers and covering the food supplies for these facilities;
  • Calls upon the Palestinian Government to regularly pay the accumulating financial dues for these companies, in order to avoid the reoccurrence of such crisis; and
  • Calls for neutralizing healthcare services from the political conflict to protect each person’s right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental healthcare.

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