201106 Water Discipline: Water, the Israeli State and the Unrecognized Bedouin Villages in the Negev

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:50 AM

Nadav Davidovitch, MD, MPH, PhD , Health Systems Management, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel
Nora Dalia Gottlieb, MA, MSC , Department for Health System Management, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel
Orly Almi, MSc , Social Activist (Former, PHR-IL), Tel Aviv, Israel
Most residents of the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the south of Israel (Negev region) are not connected to the Israeli water grid and their access to water is irregular, sometimes from sources whose quality is untested and unknown. Water is kept for prolonged periods in containers that are also not inspected. The water consumption in the villages is about half of the average national consumption and allocation of water to residents of the unrecognized villages is radically unequal as compared with the rest of Israel's residents. This situation has health ramifications, from infectious diseases prevention to infant mortality, whose rate among the Bedouin Arab population in the Negev is the highest in Israel.

In this paper we will analyze the different ethical frameworks available for the different stakeholders to deal and interact with such situation: public health practitioners, academics, non-governmental organizations, human rights activist and the Bedouin community. We will focus on the tensions and potential for dialogue between the different discourses and practices such as public health ethics, community based research, human rights and legal means, as expressed in the particular social and cultural context of Israel, exploring the advantages and possible pitfalls of these approaches. Such analysis of a particular case study can provide a model for rethinking and redressing forms of health inequalities, including the particular issue of the right to water as a right to health and human rights.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the water situation in Unrecognized Bedouin Villages in Israel 2. Identify the ethical problems presented by this case study and their different possible construction by public health ethics vs. human rights discourses.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Ethics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As member of physicians for human rights I am involved in advising and meeting with the Bedouin population in the south of Israel, regarding questions of public health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.