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Galilee Society Newsletter - January 2003

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  1. 1. January 2003 Issue 1The Galilee Society is a leading advocate for the Arab minority in Israel, working to realizeimprovements in their health, environmental and developmental status through researchdemonstration, advocacy, capacity building and awareness raising.GS Health Conference Marks 20 Yrs The HonorsThe Galilee Society language of the conference For an Arab Israeli NGO tocelebrated its 20 year was Arabic, with reach its 20th anniversary isanniversary with a Health simultaneous translation into no mean feat, and the GalileeConference on the Palestinian Hebrew. Society saw the conference asMinority in Israel, held A key result of the conference an ideal opportunity toDecember 19th in Nazareth. is the appointment of a publicly thank its foundingThe conference aimed to taskforce to write the fathers (and mothers) forpresent the health status of the blueprint for a new permanent their vision and guidance inPalestinian community, steering committee of Arab those early years. We alsoidentify its needs and bring health professionals that will thanked those boardtogether professional issue advice, coordinate members, employees andresources for this task. campaigns and make professionals who haveOver 350 doctors, researchers recommendations on health committed so much over theand other professionals issues affecting Arabs in last two decades to helping usattended the conference, Israel, including; improve the health,which featured research environmental health, environment and educationpapers from 80 speakers on learning difficulties, inter- status of the Arab communityfive key issues affecting the relative marriage and in Israel. Special mention wasPalestinian minority; public smoking. made of volunteers, who havehealth, child health and played a central role in thegenetics, environmental Galilee Society’shealth, psychological health development. The honoreesand learning difficulties, were presented with hand-alongside presentations on the painted tiles of the old citylatest research from the GS of Jerusalem.R&D center. The officialReview: Conference Findings and ConclusionsAs Director of Health community in Israel. It not unofficial health policiesPromotion and Education at only offered an important towards Palestinians.the Galilee Society, I felt that contribution to public health In particular, speakers at thethe health conference dialogue in Israel, but a conference exposed the extentsucceeded in fostering high- departure point for those of neglect and marginalizationlevel and comprehensive working to realize changes in suffered by the Palestiniandiscussions on the key issues inequitable official and community in Israel, both inaffecting the Palestinian terms of the provision of health The Galilee Society P. O. Box 300, Shefa Amr 20200, Israel Tel: 972 4 9861171 - Fax: 972 4 9861173 - Email:
  2. 2. services, and in terms of their special needs and genetic and making pregnancy andisolation from the decision- disorders, womens’ health, childbirth a safer experience,making process, despite the care for the elderly and general through regular checkups andprofessional and technical psychological health. medical observation.skills available within our On the other hand, a number of Above all, I hope that thecommunity. Even prominent speakers highlighted positive establishment of a professionalmembers of the Health features of Palestinian health, steering committee on health,Ministry acknowledged this due to structural or cultural as agreed in the final session ofprejudice and the characteristics that should be the conference, will keep theseirresponsibility that reinforced. Moreover, we have issues and ideas alive, and helpcharacterizes health policy great potential to improve the lay out a comprehensivetowards our community, health of our own society if we program with which todespite its pressing need for can raise awareness about systematically improve theservices; particularly those preventative health. This alone health of our Arab communityrelating to infant health and would make inroads into in Israel.development, childhood eliminating smoking, obesityBy Dr Cameel Makhoul, Director of Health Promotion and Education.Vision: The Galilee Society after 20 YearsBy General Director, Dr. Basel GhattasIn the last 20 years, the GS has community on the agenda of pronged approach togrown from a small grassroots the big aid agencies that development. On the one hand,organization, designing and (rightly) saw Israel as a we will target major strategicimplementing projects to developed rich country, but developmental projects whichbridge the gaps in the health were unaware of the second can create sustainable impactstatus of the Palestinian class legal status and living on the people socio-economiccommunity in Israel, to a big standards accorded to Arabs. conditions. Our other focusstrong professional Unfortunately, this is still a must continue our grassrootsdevelopmental tool, working to problem and a challenge for us, projects in the health,achieve the highest impact on though we partially overcame environment and socio-the health, environmental and that with the help of economic fields, in a way thatliving conditions of this international partners like empowers the local communitycommunity. ICCO, USAID Christian Aid, and brings about positiveI was the second employee of CORDAID, the Ford change, whether throughthe Galilee Society, after the Foundation and others. advocacy, demonstrationSecretary, and in the early What we dream of now is an models, lobbying or research.days, the real issue for us, was organization that is more self-putting the Palestinian reliant and extends our two-The Politics of HealthBecause of the discrimination years short of Jewish life neurological disorders wasin health budgets and services expectancy. around 13% higher than thosefor Arab sector in Israel most There are also higher rates of among Jewish men, while thehealth indicators show the critical diseases, such as number of deaths among ArabArab sector at a palpable diabetes, heart and women was 23% higher thandisadvantage to its Jewish neurological disorders and those among Jewish women.counterpart, not least in life lung cancer. In 1997, the But more worrying, is theexpectancy, which remains 2.3 number of deaths among Arab discrimination that our men from heart and children suffer, even at birth. The Galilee Society P. O. Box 300, Shefa Amr 20200, Israel Tel: 972 4 9861171 - Fax: 972 4 9861173 - Email:
  3. 3. There remains a stark number of public health general, seedifference in infant mortality facilities available to Arab between the Jewish and children, the Health Ministry h/edu.htm. This in itselfArab sectors, despite recent admits to just 40 such facilities contributes to higher rates offalls in the latter; between in Arab areas s. diabetes and obesity in the1999 and 2001 the average of Meanwhile, there is a shocking Arab community. For moreArab infant mortality was 8.4 shortfall in the budgets information see The Statisticalcompared with 4.2 per 1000 allocated for Arab health Abstract of Israel and theamong Jewish infants. awareness, despite Israeli Health care Department of theAs for health treatment, there government commitment to Galilee a severe shortage in the preventative measures inForthcoming EventsFebruary 7-8 Internal workshop on the annual planning for the Galilee SocietyEnd of March Publication of the environmental justice project report on quarries in the GalileeApril 2003 Phase 3 of the Rikaz socio-economic database development begins with funding from the Ford Foundation. For more see http://www.rikaz.orgPlease feel free to forward this document and to send us your comments.If you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe please email with the subjectNewsletter. The Galilee Society P. O. Box 300, Shefa Amr 20200, Israel Tel: 972 4 9861171 - Fax: 972 4 9861173 - Email: