Opening Speach by Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Representative for the Norwegian Government

Your Excellency Prime Minister Dr.Salam Fayyad, President of the Medical Syndicate in Palestine Dr. Jawad Awad, President of the Palestinian Society for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr. Waleed Bargouthi, Director of Al-Makassed Hospital Dr. Bassam Abu Libde, Chair of Norwegian Aid Committee Professor Erik Fosse, Ladies and Gentlemen,It is a great pleasure for me today, as a Representative for the Norwegian Government, to address you all on this very important occasion. We are very proud to be a sponsor of this conference.

The main objective for Norwegian assistance in Palestinian Territory is to contribute to building a Palestinian State and Palestinian institutions in support of a Two-State-Solution.
Delivering adequate health services to its population is a hallmark of any modern state. So even though Health has not been identified as one of the main sectors for Norwegian development cooperation between with the Palestinian Authority, we have still ended up with substantial engagement in the field.
We see three important objectives of this conference.

  • Strengthening human resource capacities and systems that will contribute to better provision of quality health care and health for the Palestinian population.
  • Improve the situation in line with the MDG 4 and 5 on mother and child mortality. An agenda my Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, personally has a great commitment to.
  • And strengthening Sexual and Reproductive Health and (Rights) which we see as an important element in strengthening Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

Although statistics are showing some positive trends like a sharp decrease in percentage of unsafe deliveries for the previous twelve years and close to 100 % of deliveries now take place at hospitals, there are significant gaps in the quality of childbirth services in Palestine leading to unnecessary maternal deaths and neonatal deaths as well as high numbers of disabilities as a result of complications at birth and congenital anomalies. Some of the main challenges that has been identified in Palestine are the lack of capacities to implement guidelines for maternal and obstetric care both due to insufficient numbers of highly skilled and qualified health personnel, utilization of the these health care professionals, as well as lack of unified surveillance systems, documentations and data collection. We feel privileged to participate to address these challenges at various levels. In a long tradition of close cooperation between public sector, NGOs and professional groups.
As an example, NORWAC (Norwegian Aid Committee) is working together with Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem and Shifa Hospital in Gaza to provide special training of doctors, nurses and midwifes to improve quality and efficiency of gynecological and obstetrics care. One important result is that Palestinian gynacologists at Makassed Hospital now have the skills and are training other doctors in the endoscopic techniques. This is done through institutional cooperation with Oslo University Hospitals. Further, PALCOM (Palestine Committee) has been implementing a pilot project on “Continuity of Midwifery Care” at Palestinian Red Crescent Society Maternity Hospital in Ramallah and at Ministry of Health Primary Health Clinics in six villages in Ramallah Governorate. You will hear more in details about this project later during this Conference.

(I would also like to mention a smaller project that is implemented by the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association in marginalized areas of the Jerusalem Governorate. The goal of this project is to reduce social and family problems, sexual diseases and encroachment upon female’s rights through awareness raising and access to information and family planning, counseling and health services. This project has mobilized the communities and sensitized people in these areas on the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights as a start to improve knowledge, attitudes (i.e. early marriages) and practices regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender roles.)

(On another level, I would like to mention the establishment of a Palestinian National Institute for Public Health which will take place over the next two years in close collaboration between WHO, the Palestinian Authority and the Norwegian Institute for Public Health.The aim of the PNIPH is to strengthen the national efforts to protect and improve the health of the Palestinian people. The PNIPH will undertake health surveillance, data analysis and research in order to provide evidence-based information and advice on health issues to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Civil Society, including a role in training and capacity building for the health sector in the Palestinian area.)

We are a very proud sponsor of this conference where you will dive into the specific challenges that exists when it comes to maternal and child health care in Palestine and discuss a way forwards to provide better health care for the Palestinian population

Finally, I would like to thank NORWAC, Al-Makassed Hospital and the Palestinian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for organizing this second Conference of its kind in Palestine and wish you three interesting, challenging and productive days at the Conference.
Thank you.