RAMALLAH, Thursday, October 27, 2022 (WAFA) - ActionAid, a global federation working for a world free from poverty and injustice, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Social Development Forum (SDF); a humanitarian organization in Gaza, launched different activities within People’s Vaccine Alliance – Asia (PVA) to demand equitable provision and access to quality health services.
Those activities also demanded the removal of restrictions hindering the work of the health system as they are caused by the illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip.
These activities are part of PVA - Asia which includes more than 100 institutions supported by experts, Nobel Prize winners, economists, international personalities, and activists working together to demand ensuring free access to a vaccine for all peoples and end inequality in the distribution of vaccine and health services.
The implementation of this project in the Palestinian context came to shed light on the reality of health services in the Gaza Strip during the Corona pandemic and during the distribution of vaccines under blockade and the repeated Israeli military wars against the Gaza Strip between 2021 and 2022.
These activities also seek to document a number of Israeli occupation practices causing violations of the right of health and equitable access to a vaccine against COVID-19. One of those practices is obstructing the arrival of vaccines, equipment, medical materials, and medical diagnosis for the Coronavirus, by banning their entry through the crossings and borders of the Gaza Strip. Those actions have limited the ability of the population and civil, governmental, and international institutions to respond to the pandemic and invalidate the effectiveness of vaccines.
Several awareness and advocacy activities were carried out including the release of a fact sheet and the production of a documentary film in partnership with Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights on the impact of the practices of the Israeli occupation authorities and the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip on health care during the Corona pandemic.
This factsheet showed the most important health and preventive gaps that the health sector suffered from in the Gaza Strip during the Corona pandemic, such as the lack of medicines and medical supplies, obstruction of the work of the power station necessary to operate the electricity power station, and depriving residents and detainees of obtaining the vaccine in the first phase of vaccination.
Short documentaries were also produced to document the health and psychological conditions of health sector workers during the Corona pandemic and the military escalation against the Gaza Strip. These conditions have increased loads of health workers and weakened the health system which in turn impedes national and international efforts to combat the pandemic and exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in an unprecedented way.
AAP worked with the SDF to train young Palestinian women and men to organize digital advocacy campaigns to demand better health services in Gaza Strip. Two webinars were organized between Palestinian youth and their peers in some Asian countries, specifically in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, to exchange information about the extent to which justice has been achieved in the distribution of vaccines and safe access to them from different groups of society.
These webinars sought to develop collective action that contributes to mobilizing pressure and intensifying advocacy efforts on an important issue facing many countries of the world, especially the countries of the South and Asia, where access to free, fair, and safe vaccines is denied.
They also aimed to hold responsible authorities accountable for the lack of a fair distribution of vaccines and to document the role of young men and women during the pandemic. These webinars were organized in cooperation with ActionAid International offices in the previous countries.
These activities seek in general to convey facts to the institutions and members of PVA-Asia about the Palestinian health reality and raise their awareness about the main reasons for the weakness of the Palestinian health system and lack of justice in the distribution of vaccines and the response to the pandemic in the Gaza Strip.
Through this alliance, these activities will also demand Asian governments to essentially practice pressure on Israel to adhere to international laws and ensure equitable access to health services. They will also demand the international community to seriously move and exert pressure on Israel to lift the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and put an end to policies of apartheid.
PVA-Asia aims to implement different strategic initiatives including advocacy, lobbying, campaigning, research, and raising awareness. Those activities are implemented to demand governments address gaps and inequality in the public health sector, prioritize the delivery of vaccines to marginalized groups and facilitate free and fair distribution of vaccines, and end monopolies of vaccine big pharmaceutical corporations to ensure access of poor peoples to vaccines.