Maternal and child access to care and intensity of conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory: a pseudo longitudinal analysis (2000–2014)
Conflict and Health, 13:36, 1–15 (2019)
In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), access to maternal and child healthcare (MCH) services are constrained due to the prolonged Israeli military occupation, the Separation Wall, army checkpoints, and restrictions on the movement of people and goods. This study assesses the relationship between conflict intensity and access to Maternal and Child Health care in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). To the best of our knowledge, the impact of conflict on access to health care has not been measured due to the lack of data.
We analyse pooled data from household surveys covering a fifteen-year period (2000–2014) of children (n = 16,793) and women (n = 8477) in five regions of the oPt. Conflict intensity was used as a continuous variable defined as the square root of non-combatant conflict mortality taken from monthly death rates of non-combatants by region. We use multilevel logistic models to explain four outputs: child vaccination schedules, antenatal care, caesarean sections, and complications during pregnancy.
Locality is important with results showing the negative impact of conflict intensity on access to care, especially in the South West Bank for maternal health services and Central West Bank for vaccination (B − 0.161 p = 0.000 for DPT). Wealth is only significant for DPT vaccinations with poorest (B − 0.098 p = 0.005) and poor (B − 0.148 p = 0.002) individuals less likely to access services. Otherwise conflict does not show a differential effect across socio-economic conditions.
This study shows how locality is the strongest factor when looking at the impact of conflict in the oPt. Preventative services (ANC and vaccinations) are the most affected by conflict. We recommend a greater use of community health care to improve access to maternal and child care when barriers impede access to health facilities during times of conflict.
Keywords: Israel, Palestine, maternal and child health, vaccination, war