Ramallah, 4 June 2009
The district of Tulkarem is situated in the north-western part of the West Bank with a total population reaching a number of 156,792 people inhabiting 35 communities. On its western border, it is closed off from its neighbouring Israeli town Natanya by the constantly growing Separation wall. Tulkarem proper is designed Area 'A', meaning under full Palestinian control.
The healthcare provision in Tulkarem city is well-functional due to the presence of a diversity of health providers. Most surrounding villages also have one or more medical centres. Nevertheless the quality of the services remains a problem. Consequently, patients are often referred to the city, mostly for much needed rehabilitation and specialist services. However, access to Tulkarem is restrained due to the many Israeli-manned checkpoints that hamper people's movement in the afternoon hours especially. This results in scenes of women who are forced to deliver their babies at the checkpoint as they are not given permission to reach a hospital in a timely manner. These situations, humiliating as they are, can be life threatening for both mother and child.
PMRS established a Primary Health Care clinic in 1986 envisaging to offer health services to the people of Tulkarem. What started as a small, voluntary-run clinic, grew into a well established and acknowledged health centre, providing high quality healthcare to all population groups in the district. PMRS clinic now offers its services to 30% of the Tulkarem-city population. The clinic offers women's health services, child health services, general medicine, chronic disease services, dental services, dermatology, laboratory services, school health, Community Based Rehabilitation, First Aid Training. Moreover, health education materials are made available in the Arabic language. To respond to the health needs in the surrounding villages of the district, PMRS's women's health doctor and general practitioner make use of the mobile clinic to conduct visits to 13 villages in the Tulkarem District three days per week. The remaining three days, they visit the areas surrounding Qalqilia.
PMRS believes that health and healthcare should be looked at from many angles, and be treated accordingly. Health services should not only include curation, but also prevention. Moreover, healthcare should not only be focussed on the patient, but also on the community as a whole. This vision is reflected in PMRS' women's health programme among others. As such, the women's health component of the clinic offers a broad range of services, ranging from ante- and postnatal care, family planning, gynaecology and breast cancer exams to lectures organised for the community. Children are also targeted and provided with information on nutrition and poverty at their schools.
The clinic has built a good reputation and trust among the population and has developed itself into a high quality health care institute. PMRS hopes to expand the services by enlarging the clinic, thereby enabling all services to be provided in specially designated rooms resulting in more comfort for both health workers and patients.