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Danish Nurses coming to Palestine
For two intensive weeks 8 Danish nursing- and therapist students from Metropol University College visited the Middle East as part of their studies. Arranged by ActionAid Denmark’s project Global Contact the young students visited hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territories in order to learn about the health care system in an international context.
04. June 2012
Arriving to the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) for the first time the group was exited to see what was expecting us. Our knowledge about the region was scarce and limited to what we had heard in the media about conflict and war. What we quickly realised was that the area contains so great contrasts, cultures and diverse peoples that it can be almost impossible to comprehend.
Prior to our visit we had received education about global health with a specific focus on human rights. As an extension to the classes we visited various hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territories in order to get a practical view upon health care in a different context than the Danish.
It was the first time that a class from Metropol got the opportunity to visit the oPt, which meant that we had a lot to say in shaping the programme. Other students went to China and Ghana, but going to the Middle East we got the unique opportunity to experience a health care system in a highly tense political situation.
We were lucky to be offered the possibility to follow the staff in the hospitals closely – watching surgeries, seeing how patients are being handled and in general how the daily rounds in the hospitals are working. We quickly realised that there are differences between what we came from and what was facing us in the Palestinian hospitals but also that the treatment being offered was highly professional.
A visible difference in the hospitals related to the gender division among nurses. In Denmark the nurses are mainly female, whereas in oPt this occupation is highly dominated by men. Other differences related to hygiene principals, how to handle the medicine and in general what you focus on as a nurse. At the same time it was also interesting to notice the greater presence of relatives in the hospitals compared to the Danish context.
It was an interesting experience to visit the hospitals in the area, and the group agreed that it had been a learning experience – but what made an even bigger impact on me was to see how people live and struggle in the area. I was affected by the stories told by people in the oPt who had experienced attacks on their cities and how marked they were by the tense situation.
Meeting both Israelis and Palestinians I became amazed over how close to one another the two peoples live and just how little they know about each other. The sharp divisions between the different groups in for example Jerusalem was striking and we quickly realized that not all topics are easily approached. It was difficult to keep track of the different opinions and we felt very exhausted when hitting the beds at night.