ICHR calls on the Palestinian Medical Association to ensure balance in exercising the right to strike and calls on the government to respond to the dialogue with the Association

 

ICHR calls on the Palestinian Medical Association to ensure balance in exercising the right to strike and calls on the government to respond to the dialogue with the Association

 

The Independent Commission for Human Rights is following with great concern the escalatory steps that the Medical Association announced intention to start implementing next Tuesday, May 4th , in protest against “the government's intransigence and refusal to implement previous agreements with the Association,” according to a statement issued by the association yesterday, April 27th 2021.  This will lead to the suspension of government primary health care, which serves at least five million citizens, and will stop receiving any cases in government hospitals and health centers even in emergencies. The Medical Association called on citizens to receive health care in private hospitals.

In addition to the violations that may lead to affecting the citizen's right to the highest attainable standard of health, stopping the provision of healthcare to citizens in government health institutions and limiting that to private health institutions would deprive a large proportion of the citizens from obtaining the healthcare they need. It can also exacerbate their overall health status, with the deterioration of the economic situation due to the Corona pandemic and the weakening of the citizen's ability to receive healthcare in private health institutions.

ICHR affirms that the right to union organization, peaceful assembly, strikes organization and other peaceful protest steps are among the basic rights stipulated in the Palestinian Basic Law and guaranteed by international human rights agreements, to which Palestine acceded in 2014. Nonetheless, these rights must be practiced while taking into account several other basic rights, especially the citizens’ right to the highest attainable standard of health and their right to life. It is worth mentioning that the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization have always emphasized that the exercise of the right to strike in the health sectors should not affect the groups that need indispensable emergency and/or healthcare.

This requires the Government and the Medical Association to take into account the need for the announced strike to ensure a balance between doctors’ right to strike and their duty to continue providing the necessary health services. In addition to avoiding being strict in the strike procedures and the health sectors it covers. On the other hand, the government has to fulfill its obligations towards doctors according to the agreements already signed between the two parties.

Accordingly, the Independent Commission calls on the Medical Association and the Government to ensure:

1. The need for the Medical Association to reconsider the protest procedures that affect the citizen’s right to receive emergency medical services and services that cannot be postponed, and to take into account the conditions of the most vulnerable groups in society that depend on the primary medical care provided by the government. Also the need for the government’s commitment to its pledges to the Medical Association.

2. The need for initiating a quick dialogue between the Government and the Medical Association, to solve the crisis, in such a way that preserves citizens' rights and dignity and, at the same time guarantees health workers the necessary appreciation; especially at this time that requires them to work in the most dangerous circumstances.

3. ICHR expresses its full readiness to sponsor and facilitate a constructive dialogue between the Medical Association and the Government to come up with a balanced formula to resolve the disagreement causing this strike, to preserve citizens' right to health and the right of health workers to protest and strike.

The End