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Gender-Based Analysis of Public Health Sector Services: A Beneficiary-Based Study

Abu-Zaineh, Mohammad (2013)

MIFTAH publication (2013): The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy


This study aims at conducting a gender-based analysis of the public health sector in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The study complements previous efforts exerted to adopt more balanced and more gender-responsive public policies. The study is in line with the public policy approved by the Council of Ministers on 22 June 2009, to adopt a gender-responsive budget and designate the Ministry of Women Affairs to follow up on the commitment of ministries to women’s issues and finalize the setting up of gender units in all Palestinian ministries. To achieve the goals of the study, secondary data available at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) were reviewed, in addition to other secondary sources such as studies and reports. Moreover, a questionnaire was designed as a tool for primary data collection. A random sample of beneficiaries of the services provided by MoH at the three levels; primary, secondary and tertiary health services were selected. The study uses a descriptive-analytical methodology in processing and analyzing the findings of the field survey.

The findings of the study highlighted the most important gaps between men and women in the health care sector and access to different types of health care services. In the area of human resource distribution in the health sector, the findings revealed a continuous limited representation of women in administrative and oversight positions at various MoH units, and at the different levels of health services, which may adversely affect the opportunities of developing more balanced policies towards gender health issues and needs. On the other hand, the findings revealed that despite the improvement in life expectancy, the gender gap in life expectancy has diminished during the past five years, and maternal mortality rate is high compared to other countries with similar income. Furthermore, the rate of women who suffer from diseases, especially chronic, is higher than that of men, which may suggest that women receive lower levels of proper health care. The findings of the statistical analysis clearly indicate a higher need for health services among women. Although they expressed a higher level of satisfaction with the provided services, they still face many difficulties in accessing health facilities, in addition to their belief that not all needed medical services are available in the government health facilities. Despite the recent progress during the last years in the size and type of public health services, and the significant increase in the number of maternity and childhood centers, the number of beds allocated to women in secondary and tertiary care facilities, and the women health programs, it is yet to be confirmed whether gender has been taken into account in developing targets, allocating resources, identifying different health activities and results of different health programs. Thus, providers of health services, particularly MoH, the backbone of the health sector in Palestine, should exert further efforts to achieve gender equity in the health care sector.