Palestinian midwife Sara Abu Taqea (L), 23, who works in the maternity ward at Gaza's Al-Ahli hospital, speaks with her colleague at the hospital in Gaza City, February 10, 2019. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/SAMAR ABO ELOUF)
The Trump administration's USAID cuts in the West Bank and Gaza are hitting Palestinian patients with breast cancer, aid workers said according to BuzzFeed in early March.
The American aid, which included food aid, infrastructure funds and peace-building programs was officially halted as of February 1. Buzzfeed reported that the halted funds have severely impacted Palestinian healthcare systems.
“For the women who needed biopsies, we did five or six but then just stopped,” said Eman Shanan, the founder of Aid and Hope, an NGO that helps Gazan women seek breast cancer treatment and diagnosis, according to the report. They were one of the main NGOs working on Gaza Health Matters 2020, an initiative that focused on prenatal care, mammograms and biopsies for women and treating injured Gazans. The $50 million project was partially funded by USAID. The program was also in collaboration with the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.
Shanan, herself a breast cancer survivor, understands the cultural stigmas and lack of funds that prevent many Gazans from seeking diagnosis and treatments. These factors often lead to many women to being diagnosed or treated too late. According to the World Health Organization, 65% of Gazan women diagnosed with breast cancer survive five years after their diagnosis. This survival rate is significantly lower than the average, which is closer to 90%.
Shanan had dreamed of changing that reality and helped more than 1,000 women receive mammograms through the Health Matters program. However, now many women will have to find another place for these services.
“There was a big plan to build community awareness around breast cancer, to provide screening and follow-up," Fikr Shalltoot, director of programs in Gaza for the UK-based Medical Aid for Palestinians said in the report. “But with the cut of funds, all the projects they were supporting had to be terminated pretty much totally.”
USAID received $364 million from the United States in 2017, according to Reuters.
Trump has made it clear that the aid is tied to Palestinians' willingness to negotiate.
“That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace, too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer,” Trump said in January according to Buzzfeed.
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