Conflict, health care and professional perseverance: A qualitative study in the West Bank

School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Global Public Health (Impact Factor: 0.92). 05/2011; 6(5):1-14. DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2011.574146
Source: PubMed


The past three decades have been a time of considerable global conflict, affecting over 50 countries and causing substantial impacts on civilian health. While many effects are direct results of violence, conflict also impinges on health through indirect means. The restricted mobility of health care staff and patients, targeting of health care workers, and stressful working conditions disrupt the ability of health care workers in conflict zones to function effectively. This paper explores the challenges experienced by health care workers in West Bank, Palestine, as well as their strategies of persistence. Research activities included participant observation and interviews with health care providers, which were then analysed for common themes. Results demonstrated that the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank considerably impacts civilians' access to both urgent and preventive care. While attempting to deliver care, providers encountered disruptions, harassment and violence, which interrupted care and contributed to job stress. Professional perseverance was evident, but its influence was limited by enduring constraints. This study thus underscores the importance of accountability to international law regarding the rights of civilians to health care in conflict zones. Health professionals may play a particular role in advocating for just and dignified resolutions to conflicts.

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