Category: News

April 2018: Access to Health Care

April 2, 2018 –

ACT PALESTINE FORUM (APF) PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

APRIL 2018

Every day in the month of April 2018, and particularly on the 24th, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe.

A special thanks to DSPR and LWF for contributing to this month’s prayers.


Prayer Focus: Access to Health Care

This month the APF focus is on the access to humanitarian health services throughout Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Restrictions on movement and limited resources resulting from the occupation of the Palestinian territories mean that many cannot get the care that they need.

[caption id="attachment_2395" align="aligncenter" width="496"] A new, wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus was purchased by the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), a program of APF member The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). AVH is the only hospital where Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza can receive radiation therapy for cancer and this bus will transfer Gaza cancer patients between AVH and the Jerusalem hotels where they stay during their treatment.[/caption]

 


BACKGROUND:

Palestinians continue to need humanitarian health services across the oPt, particularly in Gaza, where needs have substantially increased in the past year, but also in vulnerable locations and communities in the West Bank. In Gaza, due to the deterioration of the electricity supply over the course of 2017, elective surgeries are being delayed to reserve energy for emergency cases, diagnostic services are put on hold, and Ministry of Health (MoH) primary healthcare (PHC) facilities are at risk of closure. Compounding the electricity crisis is the shortage in medical supplies and continuing access restrictions on the referral of patients in need of life-saving healthcare outside Gaza. Gaza’s already overburdened and under-resourced health sector is now on the brink of collapse as essential medicines run out and there is a continuous loss of healthcare staff.

 

Access to treatment for patients referred outside of Gaza and the West Bank is becoming increasingly restricted. The number of patients seeking permits to access healthcare outside the Gaza Strip has more than doubled since 2012, but approval rates through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing are dramatically declining, from 92.5% in 2012 to 62.1% in 2016[1], to 55% in August 2017[2]. The impact of these restrictions can be life-threatening. In the first half of 2017, 12 deaths were reported as a direct result of permit denials. Every year, 20,000 patients from Gaza are affected by the restrictive permit process[3].  West Bank patients also face restrictions in accessing healthcare and must apply for permits to travel, whether to East Jerusalem, within the oPt, or to Israel[4].

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

Luke 5:17-26

John 5:1-15

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION:

In the texts chosen for the vigil this month, we read of the challenge of access that was present for the sick even in the days of Jesus. The man at the pool of Bethesda was repeatedly ignored and pushed aside by others and did not have someone to assist him. John 5:6-7 reads, “When Jesus saw him lying there, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well? The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another man steps down before me.’”

The paralyzed man mentioned in Luke 5:17-26 also needed the help of his friends, who went so far as to lower him through the roof, to access the healing that Jesus provided. When Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man and his friends, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Today, financial burdens, movement restrictions, and limited resources all impede access to health care for those who need it most in Gaza and the West Bank. The readings selected for the vigil this month prompt us to reflect on our responsibilities toward those who do not have access to the care that they need.  We are called to help, to serve and to advocate for those who are vulnerable, especially the sick. Access to health care is a right and the work of helping all to gain access is not a charity, but a duty.

PRAYERS:

(Adapted from prayers of the Saint Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church)

Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, You became man and died on the cross for our salvation. You healed people of sickness and affliction through Your love and compassion.

Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom. Grant that this trial may bring me closer to You for You are my rock and refuge, my comfort and hope, my delight and joy. I trust in Your love and compassion.

O God, our help in time of need, you are just and merciful, and you incline to the supplications of your people. Look down upon me and have mercy on me and deliver me from the trouble that now besets me. Deal with us not according to our iniquities, but according to Your manifold mercies, for we are the works of Your hands, and You know our weaknesses. I pray to you to grant me Your divine helping grace and endow me with patience and strength to endure my hardships with complete submission to Your Will. Only You know our misery and sufferings, and to You, our only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort, trusting in Your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when You know best, You will deliver me from this trouble, and turn my distress into comfort. We then shall rejoice in Your mercy, and exalt and praise Your Holy Name, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Amen.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE(S):

7 April 2018 marks the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day. This year, the WHO is calling world leaders to live up to the pledges they made and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all. Everyone, everywhere should be able to access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.

Read more here: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2018/campaign-essentials/en/

And here: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2018/whd-2018_policy-advocacy-toolkit.pdf?ua=1

Read more about the health and humanitarian crisis in Gaza here: http://www.who.int/hac/crises/international/wbgs/appeal/who-donor-alert-gaza20-2-2018.pdf

A printable PDF version of the prayers can be found here: 2018 April Prayer Vigil


[1] WHO monthly reports on referral of patients from the Gaza Strip http://www.emro.who.int/pse/publications-who/monthly-referral-reports.html

[2] WHO, Right to Health: Crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2016

[3] WHO infographic: Timeline for Gaza Patient Referral 2016 http://www.emro.who.int/images/stories/palestine/documents/WHO_infographic_final-TIMELINE_FOR_GAZA_PATIENT_REFERRALS-13July017.pdf?ua=1

[4] WHO, Right to Health: Crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2016. WHO, WHO, Right to Health: Crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2014-15

March 2018: Water in the Gaza Strip

March 13, 2018 –

ACT PALESTINE FORUM PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

MARCH 2018

Every day in the month ahead, and particularly on the 24th, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe.

A special thanks to The Lutheran World Federation for authoring this month’s prayers.


Prayer Focus:

Water in the Gaza Strip

Since 2007, the Israeli government has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, severely restricting the movement of Palestinians and their access to resources, infrastructure, and public services. One area where this is increasingly dire is the availability of potable water in Gaza. According to a report published in July 2017 by the United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory, only 3.80% of water available from the public water network is safe for drinking. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the coastal aquifer that supplies the water to Gaza’s public network with be irreversibly damaged and will not provide any safe drinking water. The people of Gaza must rely on water trucking for their drinking water, which is 15-20 times more expensive than water from the network. Echoing the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, APF acknowledges that water is both a gift of God and a fundamental human right and we pray and advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation and for the people of the Gaza Strip whose need for justice and clean water overlap.

SCRIPTURE:

Amos 5:23-24

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION:

In this period of Lenten reflection, we pray for and work for justice and righteousness and we are drawn to the call of the prophet Amos. Amos uses the image of an ever-flowing stream — not a wadi that rushes with water for a short time and dries up. Amos uses this image in order to emphasize the nature of justice — continuous, enduring, and abundant, and the character of those who seek justice — steady, persistent, and indefatigable.  Amos expresses an impatience with songs and melodies at a time when there is “darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it.”  His plea is to let justice roll down like waters!

PRAYERS:

Adapted from WCC Prayers related to SDG6 Water and Sanitation, 23 September 2015

Prayer of Confession

Leader: God, the very source of life, whose spirit hovered over waters at the time of creation; God in Jesus Christ, who came as living waters to quench the thirsty; God the Holy Spirit, who waters and brings forth the fruit; we come to your presence confessing our attitudes of greed, dominance and insensitivity towards your wonderful creation, and particularly towards water.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.

Leader: We confess that we have been irresponsible in our use of water, wasting it to satisfy our comfortable lives. In many places we have commodified and privatized water, a natural resource, denying people access to it. In the name of development projects, water sources have been drained or polluted with industrial waste, causing risk to flora and fauna.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.

Leader: We acknowledge the lack of cooperation between different authorities and organizations to manage water resources fairly. We confess our failure, as faith communities, to address water justice and seek forgiveness for not speaking out for the thirsty and the dying in situations of drought.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.

Leader: We confess to being silent spectators as many vulnerable communities walk miles every day in search of water for their families. We regret our involvement in the commodification of water, which has resulted in contamination and reduction of water supplies. We come to your presence ashamed of our apathy and insincerity towards the abuse of water and other natural resources, asking you to inspire us to be challenged to conserve, preserve and use water prudently.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.

Absolution

All: God who brought water out of the rock,  God who quenched the thirst of those dying in the wilderness,  God who in Jesus gave the living waters  so that those who taste them would never thirst,  God who in Jesus died on the Cross thirsty,  for there was none to quench his thirst,  listen to all those who truly confess  and grant us forgiveness so that we act responsibly in our use of water,  become sensitive to the desperate needs of those without water,  and gain wisdom in conserving and preserving water so that rivers roll out in justice among all nations and all peoples.  Amen.

ADDITIONAL WORSHIP RESOURCE(S):

Full WCC prayer service here: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/spiritual-life/prayer-for-everyone/prayers-related-to-sdg6-water-and-sanitation

Hymn: Let Streams of Living Justice

https://soundcloud.com/mark-mummert/let-streams-of-living-justice

Verse 1:

Let streams of living justice flow down upon the earth;

Give freedom’s light to captives, let all the poor have worth.

The hungry’s hands are pleading, the workers claim their rights,

The mourners long for laughter, the blinded seek for sight.

Make liberty a beacon, strike the iron pow’r;

Abolish ancient vengeance: proclaim your people’s hour.

Verse 2:

Your city’s build to music; we are the stones you seek;

Your harmony is language; we are the worlds you speak.

Our faith we find in service, our hope in others’ dreams,

Our love in hand of neighbor; our homeland brightly gleams.

Inscribe our hearts with justice; your way the path untried;

Your truth – the heart of stranger; your life – the Crucified.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE(S):

Read more from the UN report on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza: https://unsco.unmissions.org/gaza-ten-years-later-report-july-2017

Join the Ecumenical Water Network for the Seven Weeks for Water, reflections for the Lenten season on water: https://water.oikoumene.org/en/whatwedo/seven-weeks-for-water/2018-1

Participate in the UN World Water Day on 22 March: http://worldwaterday.org/

Find a printable PDF version of the March 2018 Prayer Vigil here: March 2018 Prayer Vigil