Adalah demands Health Minister reopen shuttered mother & child health clinic in Galilee Arab village

Clinic served pregnant women, new mothers, and infants in two Haifa-area villages; closure forces patients to travel to more distant clinics despite lack of access to public transportation.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel wrote a letter on 12 July 2017 to Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman demanding he act to reopen the mother and child health clinic that has been shut down in the Arab village of Khwaled.


The clinics, known in Hebrew as "Tipat Halav," provide health care to pregnant women, new mothers, and infants.


This branch of the government-run clinic has been serving the 1,400 residents of Khwaled and Ras Ali, located in the Galilee region east of Haifa, for some 20 years.


Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher wrote in the letter that the clinic's closure imposes severe hardships on pregnant women and new mothers seeking essential medical care:


"This was the only clinic offering mother and child care to residents of these two villages and now, due to its closure, residents are forced to turn to clinics in Shefa-'Amr, Kiryat Ata, and Ibthan. There is no public transportation between Khwaled and Ras Ali and these locations, requiring residents to walk long distances or to somehow obtain private transport which is  particularly difficult pregnant women and new mothers with infants."


Adalah noted also that the Health Ministry has been making repeated attempts over the past several years to close the Khwaled clinic, despite the objections of local residents:


"In 2015, the Health Ministry claimed the clinic needed to be closed due a failure to conduct renovations. Residents carried out the renovations in order to avoid the closure, and the clinic continued operations. In 2016, the Health Ministry again sought to close the clinic because it was lacking internet access. In response, residents installed an internet connection in order to head off the closure."


The Health Ministry is required by law to provide readily available and accessible preventive health services for mothers and new borns.


"The Health Ministry's obligation to establish and operate these clinics is legislated and their closure not only harms mothers and infants but is also a violation of the National Health Law," Attorney Zaher wrote in Adalah's letter. "In 2009, we petitioned against the Health Ministry's decision to close mother and child clinics in three villages in the Negev [Naqab] and, as a result, your office reopened the clinics."


(Photo by Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank)