The 11th Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA) conference was held on 12-15 July 2021 and hosted by the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University. The Conference was conducted remotely using Zoom.
Dr. Richard Horton, the Editor-in-chief of The Lancet, opened the Conference and moderated the opening remarks session. The session began with welcoming words from Dr. Abdullatif Abu Hijleh, President of Birzeit University, followed by Dr. Mai Alkaila, the Palestinian Minister of Health, who emphasized the Ministry’s role in supporting the production of high quality scientific health research in Palestine. Dr. Graham Watt, the Chair of the LPHA Steering Group, continued by highlighting some of the LPHA’s main activities in celebration of the solidarity and collegiality of the LPHA network. Finally, Dr. Abdullatif Husseini, the Director of ICPH, presented the latest data on the course of the COVID-19 epidemic in Palestine and identified what is known about the spread of this epidemic and what still needs to be known.
The session was concluded with reflections from Dr. Horton and included the notion that the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land is the world’s most polarizing geopolitical confrontation today, and highlighted the consequences of the prolonged occupation on Palestinians and how this denied them of several rights and led to violence which cause physical, mental and social injuries in addition to destroying aspirations for building a Palestinian state. Dr. Horton ended the session by reminding the audience of the main goal of the LPHA which is “to construct and re-constitute knowledge about Palestinian lives as a commitment to decolonization and to challenge false assumptions about life under occupation and siege” and “to put the power in the Palestinians themselves to describe their own reality, their own stories and experiences, also to give Palestinians a platform in their narrative of nationhood in the history of health in Palestine.”
The Conference sessions spanned over four days and covered various topics including: the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip, political violence, women's health, children and adolescents environmental health, non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases, effectiveness of medical procedures and health economics.
During the Conference’s closing session on July 15, the incoming Birzeit University President, Professor Beshara Doumani, was introduced by Dr. Mamdouh Aker, member of Birzeit University’s Board of Trustees. Professor Doumani expressed his support for initiatives that aim to connect local, regional and global academic institutions to center the Palestinian experience and to inspire new theories and practices. Dr. Graham Watt then reflected briefly on the Conference and then announced the names of the three best posters’ winners: Dr. Mohammad Sarhan from the University of Tokyo, Japan; Dr. Maha Atout, from Philadelphia University, Jordan and Doaa Tarifi from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, West Bank, oPt.
A total of 230 abstracts were submitted to the Conference where 26 abstracts were presented orally and 40 were presented as posters displayed in an online gallery hosted at the Institute of Community and Public Health website. The Conference was attended by 263 participants on the first day, 156 on the second day, 151 on the third day and 186 on the last day. These numbers were derived from the Zoom meeting data, and ICPH YouTube and Facebook pages on each day. The LPHA online gallery recorded 406 visits in the months of June and July.