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Innovative mobile health clinic reaches patients in West Bank

A mobile health clinic powered by solar energy has opened its doors in a West Bank village. (Reuters)

Source : Reuters / 12 Jul 2013 

A mobile health clinic powered by solar energy has opened its doors in a West Bank village.

The first facility of its kind, funded by foreign donors in co-ordination with the Palestinian ministry of health, was set up in Walajeh village near Bethlehem.

The mobile clinic is the only health facility that the villagers are permitted as they live in the designated ‘C’ zone of the West Bank.

Architect and Project Manager, Alberto Alcalde, told Reuters TV the project was initiated at the end of 2012 to get around the rigid building controls in Area ‘C’.

“So the idea of this mobile clinic was created by Vento di Terra NGO and ARCò - Architecture & Cooperation, in order to produce a prototype able to bring basic health facilities to those Palestinian communities who live in the Area ‘C’ of the West Bank and therefore they don’t have possibilities to build proper buildings for whatever public use or private use,”Alcade said.

The unit had to fulfill certain criteria.

“And (the) technical challenge was to create a unit foldable and unfoldable; foldable so that it should be a very small and reduce volume in order to be transported by the road and fulfill all the regulations of transportation but at the same time once it arrives to a place and it is placed in a location, it should have the minimum allowed space in order to carry on with medical activities without problem.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah officially opened the clinic on Monday. The mobile unit was funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Italian Consulate and the Belgium Consulate in Jerusalem, in co-ordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister Office.

Health Minister Jawad Awwad said the ministry had to come up with new solutions to providing healthcare to the West Bank population in Area ‘C’.

“Our nation under all of the circumstances has found the solution to move on, we have survived since centuries and we will survive and we will invent the tools to keep our nation alive.”

According to the Oslo agreements the land in the West Bank is divided into Area ‘A’ under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Area ‘B’ under the joint control of Israel and the PA and Area ‘C’ where Israel has military authority and full control of new building developments.

About 70 percent of Area ‘C’ is classified as a firing zone, settlement areas, or nature reserves, and is inaccessible to Palestinians.

About 95 percent Palestinians live in Areas ‘A’ and ‘B’ which make up 40 percent of the total West Bank land area.

“First of all access to health is a basic human right and we have to be innovative in Area ‘C’ so that also people here can have access to health. That is also where to build resilience in Palestinian population, because if there access to school, education, health and of course also livelihood, they’re more likely to remain where they are instead to moving into the cities,”said Frode Mauring, special representative of the United Nations Development Program.

Walajeh village is separated from Jerusalem by the Israeli security barrier, which can be seen clearly from the clinic.

Israel began constructing the barrier in 2002 at the height of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israeli cities. It says the barrier, which at multiple points dips inside the West Bank, is crucial to keep out Palestinian attackers.

Palestinians call the barrier -- whose course encompasses Israeli settlements in the West Bank -- a disguised move to annex or fragment territory Palestinians seek for a viable state.

The International Court of Justice has declared the planned 600-km (370-mile) barrier, more than half of which is completed, illegal, but Israel has ignored the non-binding ruling.

Walajeh, a community of 2,500 Palestinians on Jerusalem’s southwest edge, is almost entirely surrounded by Jewish settlements. Villagers hope that one day they can have a permanent clinic building.

“The reality is that our village doesn’t have any health facility, therefore the village is in dire need for any health services, so this clinic in this shape will facilitate the suffering of the residents from reaching the hospitals and in the emergency cases,”said Abed al-Rahman Abu al-Teen, head of Walajeh municipal council.

The project was promoted by Vento di Terra NGO, designed by ARCò - Architecture & Cooperation, and built by Al Amour Company. 


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