Many reports by the UN and non-governmental organisations mention health sequelae of such violations including the physical and psychological effects of detention and torture and the impact of occupation. However the role of health professionals has received limited attention in such reports. What is their perception of health and human rights issues? What barriers do they face in performing their professional duties in their daily encounter with occupation, closures, permit regulations and travel restrictions? Are they free to report human rights violations where they witness them?
In recent years, Palestinian health professionals have made attempts at organising themselves to address these issues. They have sought a voice within international professional bodies and they have made a call for outside support for their efforts. In this context, they invited the Johannes Wier Foundation for Health and Human Rights (the Netherlands) and Physicians for Human Rights (UK), both affiliates of the IFHHRO, to witness the numerous ways the political climate compromises their ability to function as health professionals.
In response to this call, we undertook a mission to the region in October 1997. This report is the outcome. We hope it demonstrates our profound concern for the difficulties encountered by health care workers practising in areas of conflict.
Developments since we undertook the mission in October 1997, indicate that the findings as well as the conclusions and recommendations of this report have retain their relevance.