The Orkney Friends of Palestine hosted a talk on Friday 3rd of August by consultant breast surgeon Dr Philippa Whitford MP on her work in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Orkney News livestreamed the event which can be viewed on our Facebook page.
Dr Whitford spoke of the work of MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine) and the Scottish BRCA Team. This is a collaboration between those who work in Scotland on breast cancer treatment and medical staff in the West Bank and Gaza. Their members will each year take 2 trips to Gaza and 2 trips to the West Bank supporting the work of Doctors and health workers there. It is about creating relationships: small on equipment, small on drugs but creating a teaching relationship.
Not only are the people locked into Gaza but so too are the doctors this means that they miss out on training and updating their skills which would be normal for their profession.
Dr Whitford described the situation in Gaza today where there is now only 4 hours a day access to electricity – imagine trying to run a hospital on this, dialysis machines, operating theatres…..
Dr Whitford explained that because there is no access to radiotherapy breast cancer doctors perform what we in Scotland today would term drastic surgery – for all cases. This involves a mastectomy and clearance.
Less than 40% of women will be permitted a visa to travel for treatment to Israel. It is no surprise therefore that the survival rate for women being treated for breast cancer is half what it is in Scotland. It is also half what it is just a few kilometres down the road in Israel.
“This is a political decision” said Dr Whitford.
The 2 State Solution
Dr Whitford described the rapid developments of illegal settlements by Israel into the West Bank designed to make it less viable.
She said that “the UK is not stepping up to the plate….the settlements are expanding”
“It is Conquest by Concrete.”
Many UK companies trade with these settlements, she told the audience – supporting them financially.
“The UK has to recognise that it did contribute to the establishment of this problem and it should contribute to its solution.”
First of all, she said “You have to recognise Palestine as a state.”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame