Health in Palestine

Main Health Indicators Occupied Palestinian Territory cf. Israel cf. Australia
Number of Hospitals (2014) 80
Beds per 10,000 population (2015) 13.8
Physicians per 10,000 population (2015) 21.5 31.1 38.5
Fertility rate (2014) 4.1 3.1 (2015) 1.8 (2015)
Infant mortality rate (under 1yr per 1,000 live births, 2014) 18 4 (2015) 3.8 (2015)
Child mortality rate (under 5yrs per 1,000 live births, 2014) 22
Maternal mortality rate (per 100,000 live births, 2015) 15.7
Life expectancy at birth 72 (male); 75 (female) 82.1 82.5

Key facts

  • Chronic problems of the health sector are financial constraints, equipment maintenance, staff shortages, access to health facilities for staff/patients/commodities, and restrictions on construction/rehabilitation of health infrastructure. In the Gaza Strip, major additional problems have been the shortage of fuel and electricity required to operate generators and ambulances. An increasing number of patients are transferred outside the country – to Israel, Egypt or Jordan.
  • Health service provision in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is divided between two public providers (Ministry of Health & Ministry of Interior), multiple private providers (hospitals, clinics), and numerous non-government providers (including the United Nations).
  • Across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 7.4% of children under five years suffered chronic malnutrition (‘stunting’), 1.4% were underweight, and 8.2% are overweight due to malnutrition (2015 figures).
  • Key Resource: WHO: Palestine Health Profile 2015 [pdf]


“The paramedics got out of the ambulances carrying the stretchers from the back of my ambulance… When [they] reached the place of casualties, an Israeli warplane attacked them with another missile. … I then heard a third missile while I was driving fast till I reached the hospital. … The dead paramedic, Ra’fat Abdul Aal, the child and other dead people remained in the place and our paramedics did not manage to evacuate them…”

– testimony of paramedic Yahia Hassan, Targeted Civilians: A PCHR Report on the Israeli Military Offensive against the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008-18 January 2009), Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, pp.81-82, October 2009.

Protection of Medical Personnel & Vehicles

Fourth Geneva Convention, Additional Protocol 1, 1977, ARTICLE 15:
“1. Civilian medical personnel shall be respected and protected… 3. The Occupying Power shall afford civilian medical personnel in occupied territories every assistance to enable them to perform, to the best of their ability, their humanitarian functions…”

Fourth Geneva Convention, Additional Protocol 1, 1977, ARTICLE 21:
“Medical vehicles shall be respected and protected in the same way as mobile medical units under the Conventions and this Protocol.”

Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions (ratified by Israel 6 July 1951).

Research Resources

The Lancet – access here >

World Health Organisation (WHO) – access here >

Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics  – access here >

Palestinian Ministry of Health – access here >

Institute of Community & Public Health, Birzeit University – access here >

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – access here >

Diakonia – International Humanitarian Law in the OPT – access here >


See also the AUSPalestine Resources page for further information.

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