Gaza and the Middle East

The Public Health Association of Australia appreciates the members who have contacted us regarding the continuing violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and escalating conflict in the wider Middle East. We too are very concerned by what is unfolding, and fully support calls for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further suffering.


Please help stop the war on children in Gaza – appeal by paediatricians and child health experts

An open letter by PHAA Life Member, Prof Fiona Stanley AC FAA FASSA FAHMS, Dr Suezanne Packer AO FRACP, and other paediatricians and child health professionals.

We’re active members of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) which, as an international body, offers a global perspective on the conflict. Furthermore, we also fully support the position and work of the World Health Organization (WHO), whose employees and contractors are in conflict zones providing humanitarian aid to those in need. We support any and all Australian Government efforts to pursue the goals set out below. 


‘Wars are never necessary: Gaza is the best example’ commentary in The Lancet on 16/1/24, co-authored by WFPHA President Prof Luis Eugenio De Souza, Paulo Buss, and Santiago Alcázar:
“Since the war began more than 2 months ago, nothing has been resolved and all impasses remain. The costs of lives lost and survivors’ lives destroyed forever are immense. The billions of dollars spent on killing so far could have saved lives, fed and immunised people, recovered the malnourished, built equitable systems, and provided essential medicines in many parts of the world.”

WFPHA Condemns Attacks on Civilian Populations Everywhere, 13/10/23
“Following the strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks on civilians in Israel perpetrated by Hamas, the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) also strongly condemns the Israeli forces’ attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip.
As a global public health organization, the WFPHA stresses that besides deaths and immediate threats to life, war and recurrent violence profoundly impact the mental health of people living in regions of armed conflict. Moreover, in conflict-affected areas, access to health services is limited due to the destruction of infrastructure and lack of resources.
Civilians in the Gaza Strip must have access to humanitarian aid, food, clean water, and healthcare services. The immediate release of hostages and the safe removal of children, women, and older people must be carried out urgently.”

Here are other examples of the WFPHA’s advocacy on the issue:
Physicians under bombardment: In solidarity with frontline health heroes and heroines  
Urgent Appeal for Humanitarian Action in Gaza – Join the Call for Peace
Plea for Peace: A Call to Protect Innocent Lives

In addition, the WFPHA is dedicating Global Public Health Week in April 2024 to continue the loud call for peace, with the theme “Fostering Peace as a Prerequisite for Equitable Health”. This is a week-long global event that has a very wide audience.
We will continue to support efforts against any conflict that affects the public’s health by reinforcing the work of the WFPHA.


Children’s lives threatened by rising malnutrition in the Gaza Strip, WHO, 19/2/24
“UNICEF, WFP and WHO call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access to urgently deliver multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance throughout the Gaza Strip. 
This includes nutritious foods, nutrition supplies and essential services for malnourished and at-risk children and women to safely access health and nutrition care and treatment services, particularly infants and young children under 5. 
Hospitals and health workers must be protected from attack so they can safely provide critical treatment and care. 
An immediate humanitarian ceasefire continues to provide the best chance to save lives and end suffering.”

Joint statement by UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO on humanitarian supplies crossing into Gaza, 21/10/23

“We call for a humanitarian ceasefire, along with immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza to allow humanitarian actors to reach civilians in need, save lives and prevent further human suffering. Flows of humanitarian aid must be at scale and sustained, and allow all Gazans to preserve their dignity.
We call for safe and sustained access to water, food, health – including sexual and reproductive health – and fuel, which is necessary to enable essential services.
We call for the protection of all civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including health-care facilities.
We call for the protection of humanitarian workers in Gaza who are risking their lives in the service of others. 
And we call for the utmost respect of international humanitarian law by all parties.
Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities. It is now catastrophic. The world must do more.”

Here are many other statements by the WHO in the occupied Palestinian territory

Updated: 10/04/24