The institute's inception, growth and development were a response to the Palestinian community's need for generating the evidence required to develop independent and informed health policies, plans and programmes


History pic

ICPH was established informally as Palestinian social action was emerging at the end of the 1970’s, then as a formal university unit, a department, and as an institute in 1998. Its mission and goals have been primarily defined by the extra-ordinary conditions of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The institute's inception, growth and development were a response to the Palestinian community's need for generating the evidence required to develop independent and informed health policies, plans and programmes. 


ICPH aims to contribute to the protection and improvement of the health of the Palestinian population through research, teaching the MPH and Diploma programs, and the capacity building of public health providers and planners. Its theoretical foundations are based on the notion that health is socially constructed; and on understanding health and disease in context, taking shape over the life course. Medical services are considered important for achieving health, but not sufficient, requiring additional action outside health services and within community and society to address the structural factors that influence health and well-being, such as economic, social, cultural, political, and environmental influences on health.

ICPH defines health as a basic human right and focuses on justice in health. It promotes a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach to address health problems, and for the promotion of population health. This approach requires teamwork, and a focus on issues as opposed to disciplines. Active cooperation with the community and society ensures that the link between theory and practice is maintained.

ICPH upholds primary health care as a strategy for health promotion and health services development based on community mobilization, participation, and equity. Primary health care, a population-directed approach to health, is not merely a clinic in a remote area but rather a strategy and a system of

health care provision that includes teamwork among the various categories of providers, effective linkages in the community, and referral mechanisms among the different levels of health care.

ICPH combines immediate health crisis survival needs with longer-term development objectives. Its programs run in cycles, beginning with observation, research/needs assessments to inform action, teaching and training, field interventions, monitoring, advocacy, and evaluation, which guide new programming and inform policy. The first ten-year cycle was centered on participation in the development of the Palestinian Primary Health Care model along with non-governmental organizations, and include the initiation of  ’women’s health programs. The following cycle focused on the development of the Community Based Rehabilitation model, in cooperation with local groups.

The institute is currently active in a range of areas including child health, women’s health, psychosocial and mental health, environmental and occupational health, non-communicable diseases, health policy, planning and management, and population, health and development. The institute is also active in the development of metrics that can uncover the effects of exposure to political violence on health, such as human insecurity, distress, uncertainty, deprivation, and other such suffering due to wars and conflicts indicators.

Vision & Mission

Improved health of Palestinians in Palestine and the diaspora. The Institute of Community and Public Health contributes to the protection and improvement of  Palestinian health in Palestine and the diaspora through research, education, capacity strengthening, and support for evidence-based policy formulation. Addressing the political, social, biological, and environmental determinants of health, the Institute contributes to knowledge production and the development of effective strategies for health promotion, disease prevention, and health services development based on community participation,  intersectoral collaboration, equity, and justice.

icph staff


ICPH has established excellent working relations with various Palestinian ministries working in the area of health, especially the Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, and Environment, in addition to a variety of local and international non-governmental organizations, as well as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) health care and other services. ICPH actively cooperates with these institutions and groups, being part of a collective effort aimed at improving health conditions and services in the country, and ultimately, the quality of life and well being of Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Read more about national, regional and international ICPH collaboration


​​​​​​ICPH Logo

The Logo

"يا كافي يا شافي، يا حافظ يا أمين "

"Ya Kafi Ya Shafi, Ya Hafeth Ya Amin"

The ICPH Logo was inspired by a Palestinian amulet from the collection of Dr. Tawfik 'Can’aan that was donated to the Birzeit University Museum along with many other unique Palestinian artifacts. The gold amulet was given to Dr. 'Can’aan by a Muslim woman in Jerusalem in the year 1912. The amulet is thought to have healing and prevention powers against harm and spells.

It has beautiful inscriptions on both sides. The front is inscribed with “يا كافي يا شافي، يا حافظ يا أمين"", “which represents different names for God and translates into prevention, cure, keeper, and honest. On the backside of the amulet, a 4x4 square is inscribed and divided into 16 smaller squares that have the letters “خ، ا، ل، ق” in them. These letters spell the word “creator” and it is thought that this square is a code to undo spells against people.


Institute of Community and Public Health,
Said Khoury Building for Development Studies,
Birzeit University,
P.O.Box 14, Birzeit – Palestine
Tel: +970 2 2982019/20
Fax: +970 2 2982079
Email: icph@birzeit.edu