Monthly Report: Health Access - Barriers for patients in the occupied Palestinian territory, December 2020


7,202 referrals issued to access health facilities outside the Palestinian MoH
1,492 Gaza
5,609 West Bank

71% of Gaza patient permit applications approved

44% of Gaza companion permit applications approved

Access data for West Bank patient and companion permit applications awaited from the Civil Affairs Office 1,064 permits approved for patients to Augusta Victoria Hospital 1,113 permits approved for patients to St. John Hospital

4 Gaza patients called for security interrogation

Part 1 Referrals

In December, the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) issued 7,202 referrals to health care services delivered by non-MoH providers. West Bank referrals comprised 78% (5,609) of all MoH referrals (the West Bank population comprises approximately 60% of the population in the oPt), including 853 referrals for patients from East Jerusalem. Gaza referrals accounted for 21% (1,492), while Gaza’s population comprises approximately 40% of the oPt. The origin of 99 (1% of) referrals was not reported and two patients were referred from Jordan.

After an almost 40% reduction in West Bank referrals from March to April 2020, by June 2020 West Bank referrals had recovered to the pre-COVID-19 level. In December, there were 5,609 referrals compared to a monthly average of 5,133 referrals for the first quarter of 2020. By contrast, in the Gaza Strip the substantial 58% reduction in the monthly number of referrals from March to April 2020 has not fully recovered, though there has been a sustained increase in referrals since a low of 783 in September 2020. In December, there were 1,492 referrals, compared to a monthly average of 2,492 in the first quarter of the year.

The proportion of all Palestinian MoH referrals destined for hospitals in the West Bank, outside East Jerusalem, increased from 40% in the first quarter of 2020 to 49% by December. The proportion of referrals within the Gaza Strip decreased from 7% to 4%, in line with the overall decrease in the proportion of Gaza referrals. Referrals to East Jerusalem hospitals were similar at 41%; to Israeli hospitals decreased from 5% to 3%; and to Egypt decreased from 6% to 3%. Referrals to Jordan comprised 0.3% of the total in December.
The top needed specialties for referrals were oncology (31%); urology (8%); cardiac catheterization (7%); cardiology (6%); ophthalmology (6%); medical imaging (4%); and radiotherapy (3%). Referrals for patients under 18 years of age comprised 20% (1,470) of the total, while 29% (2,056) were for those aged 60 years or older. Referrals for female patients comprised 47% of the total.