The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) is facing a nursing shortage. Among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries (which include the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel) in 2013, there were 8.8 nurses per 1,000 people. In comparison, there were just 2 nurses per 1,000 people in the West Bank and 4.1 per 1,000 in Gaza in 2012 (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics).
In addition, it is often extremely difficult for Palestinians to leave the oPt in order to access training to become ophthalmic nurses.
SJEHG is the main provider of specialist ophthalmic nursing training in the Middle East and its course is the only one of its kind in the oPt. Our training programme provides ophthalmic training for between six and ten nurses every year. Upon completion, graduates are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Ophthalmic Nursing, accredited by the University of West London. Expert training is at the heart of SJEHG; training local doctors and nurses is one of our essential objectives.
Once trained, the nurses will go on to treat thousands of patients in their careers. Many nurses who undertake the course are given future employment with us.Once trained, the nurses will go on to treat thousands of patients in their careers. Since 1998, the program has produced 139 graduate nurses, 65 of whom currently work for SJEHG. The remaining nurses work in other medical centres and units across the oPt, where they become the facility’s expert in the area, often providing referrals to our clinics and hospitals.
Ahmad Ma’ali, Director of Nursing, says, “We don’t just train for the hospital, but for the community also.”