Ninth annual Palestinian Health Alliance Conference commences at AUB

The Ninth Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA) Conference entitled “Health of Palestinians Inside and Outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory” was held on 23-24 March 2018 at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The conference was jointly organized by the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, the Faculty of Health Sciences at AUB, and the Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA).

This conference is the latest in a series of LPHA annual conferences taking place in the region since 2010 when the LPHA was established following publication of the Lancet special issue on health in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2009. The LPHA comprises a group of Palestinian, regional, and international researchers committed to the highest scientific standards in describing, analyzing, and evaluating the health and health-care of Palestinians in order to contribute to international scientific literature and develop local evidence-based policies and practices.

Over 350 participants from the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Europe, Japan, and the United States attended the two-day conference.

During their welcoming speeches, President of Birzeit University Dr. Abdullatif Abuhijleh, President of the American University of Beirut Dr. Fadlo Khouri, and Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut Dr. Iman Nuwayhid highlighted the longstanding partnership between the two universities.

President of Birzeit University Dr. Abdullatif Abuhijleh reaffirmed the university’s commitment to community development, especially in the health sector, which is in urgent need of attention in the Palestinian context. The importance of the conference, Abuhijleh said, stemmed from its ability to unite “the voices of Palestinians dispersed all over the globe, and their partners in research and in advocating for Palestinian rights.”

Abuhijleh thanked the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development for its support for the conference and the World Health Organization for covering the attendance costs of some of the participants.

The Conference included 13 sessions with 25 oral presentations over two days that covered topics related to refugees in the region, mental health, nutrition, obesity and non-communicable diseases, food security, political violence and health, health informatics, oral health, quality of life, health coverage, and social and political determinants of health, in addition to two poster sessions that featured a total of 70 poster presentations. 

In the opening session, moderated by Vice President for Community Affairs at Birzeit University Dr. Asem Khalil, Chair of the LPHA steering group Dr. Graham Watt, from Glasgow University,  reviewed the development process of the LPHA and Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, discussed the political determinants of Palestinian Health.

The closing session entailed reflections on the two-day conference and recommendations for future conferences, in addition to announcing winners of the best posters for the first and second days of the conference.