This paper results from a study conducted in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in September 2002 to test the usefulness of a guide for a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health rights and needs of refugee women. In-depth interviews with key informants from 19 organisations and two focus group discussions were carried out in the West Bank and Gaza. Three refugee camps were visited as well as five health facilities. The findings revealed that severe restrictions on mobility had reduced access to health facilities for both staff and patients in a significant way. For pregnant women, this had resulted in decreased access to antenatal and post-natal care and an increasing number of home deliveries, induced deliveries and deliveries at military checkpoints. Lack of donor interest and withdrawal of donor support were mentioned as hampering the implementation of the National Reproductive Health Guidelines, and the sustainability and quality of existing sexual and reproductive health services. Family planning had become a politically sensitive issue, and there were indications of increased gender-based violence. Lack of access to reproductive health services was the most visible aspect of the impact of the conflict on women's sexual and reproductive health. Little attention is paid to the less visible evidence that women's reproductive rights have been subordinated to the political situation.
- Occupied Palestinian Territory
- access to health
- humanitarian crisis
- sexual and reproductive rights