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Age-related causes of visual impairment and blindness are increasing, as is blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes (WHO)
Read about CBM and vision

Palestine (Gaza)

2 pre-school children having fun in the playroom of Atfaluna kindergarten
© CBM
Playroom at Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, Gaza
The Palestinian Territories (Gaza and West Bank) are a focus of CBM’s work in the region since 1975.

Challenges in Gaza

Currently, 6 5% of people in Gaza are partly dependent on food aid, 90 % of mains water is polluted and the economic situation declines dramatically.

Disability in Palestine

Young adults hand-painting wooden boxes ©CBM
Vocational training in producing hand-crafted articles for the 'Atfaluna Crafts Boutique', Gaza City
Rehabilitation and disability services in Palestine date back to the 1940s and have primarily been carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Until the 1970s, disability services were limited mostly to blindness and deafness. In the 1980s, the Intifada brought a sudden interest in physical disability: The number of persons with permanent disabilities due to war injuries rose.
 
Rehabilitation received a boost which brought about many positive changes. Community based rehabilitation (CBR) was introduced, local committees were formed and later joined efforts in establishing the central National Committee of Rehabilitation and many NGOs started special programmes for persons with disabilities. When the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) took full responsibility for the health sector, rehabilitation and disability work were given special support, especially in terms of institutional capacity building establishing large and well-equipped rehabilitation centres and staff development with a lot of donor support.
 
Nowadays, almost all NGOs are involved in direct service provision and reasonably well funded, but the sector in general is still based on a charitable and medical approach with a focus on service provision in the medical/ rehabilitative field. Realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities and implementation of rights-based disability work and related advocacy activities are still in the early stages.
 
Disability remains to a large extent an excluded topic from mainstream services. While people’s perceptions of war-disabled persons were and still are positive, this created discrimination towards other disabled persons with persons with mental disabilities being the most marginalised not only by society in general but also when it comes to service provision both by NGOs and the government.
 
The strength of the disability sector in Palestine lies in the availability of specialised rehabilitation services with up-to-date equipment and well trained staff which provide quality physical rehabilitation services. The gaps and challenges ahead are in the disability work beyond the limited medical scope. Thereby, DPOs will play a crucial role in this process.

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