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Treatment Day in Beit Sira village

Tuesday 26 July 2005

Saturday, July 10: The HAP team organized a treatment day for the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Sira (Ramallah district). Over five hours, a team of four volunteer doctors and a pharmacist treated some 300 patients with a variety of ailments and distributed medicines valued at NIS 15,000.

The day was organized at the request of Bet Sira’s action committee. The physicians and pharmacist, some from NSWAS, and others called upon by the HAP team, specialized in internal medicine, pediatrics and orthopedic medicine. The ailments encountered were typical to a less affluent population group which suffers from insufficient medical treatment. These included diabetes, hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis. Many of these disorders had been previously diagnosed, but the patients are unable to keep up their medications due to their impoverished condition. Some simply came with the hope of receiving free medicines. Among the patients were also many children with childhood ailments.

Beit Sira, which is a mere 15 minute drive from NSWAS, seems as if it exists in another world – which, in socio-economic terms is true. The transition is between first world to third world conditions. A village or small town of 5,000 people, it saddles the Green Line on the Palestinian side. Due to Beit Sira’s proximity to Israel proper, and the loss of most of its agricultural land to Israeli settlements and the separation barrier that is now being built, many of Beit Sira’s residents have grown to be especially dependent on the Israeli labour market. Unfortunately, Israel has been largely closed to Palestinians from the outbreak of the 2nd Intifada, with a result that a large percentage of the population is unemployed. In recent months, an action committee has been founded in the village to try to provide services to the residents, and it was this committee that approached NSWAS.

The village has a small clinic (which hosted the treatment day). A general practitioner, employed by the Palestinian Authority, works there twice a week. There is also a small dispensary, with a mediocre supply of medicines. The physician and pharmacist fully cooperated in the treatment day – voluntarily, since a doctor’s strike was in effect on the same day. Knowing the patients and their individual complaints, the doctor was able to help in the distribution of medicines. Sometimes alternative ones had to be administered, since the HAP mobile pharmacy does not have every possible medicine in stock.

After the treatment day, the medical team and assistants from NSWAS were treated by Beit Sira residents (the Subati family) to a well-earned meal, where the results of the day were evaluated and thoughts for the future considered. The HAP team aims to continue with treatment days in Palestinian villages on a regular basis, depending on various factors such as the ability to organize volunteer physicians. In the works are certain other projects. We plan to equip a clinic in Jurat al-Shama (see story). Regarding this, we are awaiting the village to comply with certain preliminary conditions. We also plan to continue to support individual where the economic resources or cooperation with Israeli medical establishments can be obtained.

The HAP committee remains the initiative of a small team of volunteers. In 2000, when the second Intifada broke out, it tried to play a small part in the relief of the medical emergency then created. Unfortunately, almost five years later, the medical situation in Palestinian villages remains very serious. Therefore the committee will continue in its current format, maintaining its efforts that extend good will and modest assistance from one side of the Green Line to the other.

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