WHO Director-General calls for health to be used as a bridge for peace between Israel and Palestine
World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus concluded his first visit to Israel by recognizing the progress made in the Israeli health system, and calling for health to be used as a “bridge for peace”.
During his visit Dr Tedros met Israeli Deputy Minister of Health Rabbi Yakov Litzman, who described efforts to further improve Israel’s health system, such as introducing a digital health system, stronger food labelling laws, and extending free dental care to older people and children under 18. He also discussed areas for improvement, such as lowering the rate of hospital-acquired infections. Dr Tedros toured a children’s cancer ward at Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, which accepts all patients, regardless of location, ethnicity or religion.
Dr Tedros also met the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, in Jerusalem, to discuss ways to improve the conditions for health for Palestinians, particularly in Gaza. This includes improving energy security for health facilities, and enabling more patients to obtain exit permits for specialist health services not available in the Gaza Strip.
“Health is a human right, and together with our partners, WHO is doing everything in its power to ensure that the right to health is respected, protected and fulfilled,” Dr Tedros said. “We look forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership with both Israel and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.”
Dr Tedros discussed WHO’s plan to establish an office in Tel Aviv later this year with the aim of strengthening the partnership between Israel and WHO, and Israel’s contribution to the work of WHO’s European region.
Upholding the right to the highest attainable standard of health for all is fundamental to the work of WHO, so that all Israelis – and all Palestinians – can access quality health services, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship.