Health Coordination: A Daily Reality for COGAT

​Data gathered by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) indicates that since the beginning of 2015 and mid-2016, more than 360,000 Palestinians entered Israel for humanitarian needs and approximately 1,000 Palestinian physicians received medical training in Israel or abroad. The Civil Administration says, "We see medical care as the highest priority and there is no compromise on the subject; we're doing whatever it takes to save a life.”

Every day, hundreds of crossings are coordinated between Israel, the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria for various humanitarian needs. Requests by Palestinians arrive to Israeli representatives by the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee in the Gaza Strip and by Palestinian representatives in Judea and Samaria.The definition of "humanitarian needs" touches on a broad spectrum of subjects, including family unification, patient escorts and one in particular importance, medical treatment in which the patient cannot receive in his area. Since the beginning of 2015 to the first half of 2016, two branches of the main unit Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) known as the Civil Administration and Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza granted over 360,000 entrances for Palestinians to enter into Israel. In other words, around 20,000 entrances per month and around 700 entrances per day, most of them with the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment. Health Coordinators of COGAT, Dalia Bassa representing Judea and Samaria, Menachem Weinberg representing the Gaza Strip and the given parallel Palestinian counterparts, are responsible for reviewing and coordinating each request on its merits. Requests are sometimes submitted without prior notice or without a specific time range provided and must be treated immediately, depending on professionals preparing for the provisions of life-saving treatment.

 


Another field of activities that COGAT arranges is training courses in order to develop skills in advanced medical treatments. "Currently, we are responsible for coordinating activities that provide expert training for Palestinian physicians in Israel, in addition to training Palestinian medical personnel and essentially imparting knowledge on these medical professionals in every possible way," says Bassa. As of early September 2016, about 800 physicians and medical personnel from Judea and Samaria, as well as 200 from Gaza in coordination with COGAT, participated in courses and training at leading hospitals across Israel. "Our goal is to raise the level of professionalism at hospitals in the Palestinian Authority," adds Bassa, referring to the 42 hospitals that exist in Judea and Samaria. Dozens of physicians from Gaza also participate in training seminars, in addition to foreign physicians coordinating visits to Gaza in order to train local physicians on medical practices and existing medical devices.


Palestinian medical assistance is also reflected in training the 160 Palestinian physicians who work in Israeli hospitals. The presence of Palestinian physicians is designed to prepare them for a professional career in the public health system of the Palestinian Authority. Health Coordinators are responsible for the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and their counterparts of the health system in Israel, like representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Health and coordinators employing Palestinian physicians. Dr. Wissam al-Jamal, a gynecologist from Hebron, currently works at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. Dr. al-Jamal says, "At Hadassah, I feel at home...We work as a family, and our goal is to help anyone who needs our help." Dr. al-Jamal is just one of 160 Palestinian doctors employed in Israel.