Hebron Needs Your Help!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

World financial crisis threatens new Hospital

Hebron is an ancient biblical town high in the southern mountainous region of the West Bank.  It is venerated by Christians and Muslims, and is the second holiest site for Jews (after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem), all of whose traditions maintain that four Biblical couples are buried there: Adam and Eve; Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob and Leah.

Three years ago, the St. John Eye Hospital recognised the need for a satellite clinic in Hebron in order to reach patients in the densely populated areas around the old city. The aim: to meet the needs created by the movement restrictions from and within the West Bank, the dearth of local eye care and a high degree of poverty.

In November 2005, the search for a suitable facility led to a Maternity Hospital in the Dahyiet El Zaitoun area in the south of the city.  One floor and an entire Theatre Suite lent themselves admirably to requirements and the clinic was an instant success.  Call for our services proved to be so great that, last year, we treated 13,842 patients and were able to perform close to 500 major sight-saving operations and 1,163 minor procedures.  Indeed, so impressed was Chairman John Talbot upon his inaugural visit to the centre in July of this year, that he awarded Hebron the status of Hospital in its own right. 

However, the new Hospital has become a victim of its own success.  With patient uptake increasing every year, we have had to spill over onto a second floor of the Dahyiet El Zaitoun building.  Meanwhile, the global financial crisis is having an enormous negative impact upon our ability to continue to finance the Hebron Eye Hospital, and we now estimate a further £200,000 is needed in order to keep up with demand.

It is vital that we remain in Hebron.  The presence of around 700 Israeli settlers particularly influences restrictions within the Hebron Governorate.  As a result, the population of a half a million Palestinians is affected by curfews (a round-the-clock curfew once lasted for more than 377 days in total, including a consecutive period of 182 days with short breaks to obtain provisions), checkpoints, road blocks and the construction of the Separation Wall. 

All movement restrictions in the West Bank impact directly on Palestinian Health, because they prevent travel to healthcare services.  This has potentially critical implications as the sick attempt to self-prescribe their medication, or “stretch” it to make it last.  It is estimated that the completed Wall will prevent one third of all West Bank villages from having access to healthcare.

Additionally, the Wall and its consequent enclaves have resulted in social issues that impact upon health.  The inability of residents living within immured areas to meet those from outside is leading to a rise in both consanguineous marriages and in children born with congenital malformations, including eye problems.

All residents of the Hebron Governorate are free to benefit from the presence of the Hospital – whether underprivileged communities, the elderly, children or the desert-living Negev Bedouins.  Your backing will ensure that this continues to be the case. 

Please help support the vital work of the Hebron Eye Hospital by clicking here.