• 27 Mar 2023

An Australian delegation from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) visited St. John Eye Hospital Group – Jerusalem

The delegation consisted of Rebecca Lysaght, and Gina De Pretto, Assistant Directors, NGO Program and Partnerships Section, Tim Carlson, Assistant Director, Levant Section, Middle East Africa Desk; Tawfic Raad, Senior Policy and Aid Program Manager, Australian Representative Office, Ramallah, and Craig Gilbert, Head of Development Cooperation and Deputy Head of Post, Australian Representative Office, Ramallah. The visit started at the St. John Eye Hospital Mobile Outreach Clinic in Yabroud Village Council where David Dahdal, Director of Development and Grants, and Khaled Zuaiter, Outreach Manager explained to the delegation about the rolling program of mobile outreach increasing access to eye health care in communities across the West Bank.

The delegation returned to the St. John Eye Hospital in east Jerusalem where they were taken on a tour of the facility by Mr. Dahdal and Nasralah Khalileh, Head of the School of Nursing and Quality Manager. The delegation visited the outpatient clinic, the emergency department, the paediatric department, the day care department, and the inpatient department for women, men and children, and infants to meet with doctors and medical staff.

The tour was followed by an open discussion with St John Eye Hospital nursing school students and resident doctors whose clinical training is funded via the Australian government ANCP program. Mr. Dahdal gave an overview of the hospital operations, the unique model of care, and the scope of eye health programs work. A presentation followed this by Dr. Nahed Mikki the principal researcher on a school screening research project currently underway to understand the extent of eye health needs in Palestinian children.

The St John Eye Hospital senior management team was available for open discussion with the delegation about the challenges and opportunities of health care service delivery in the Palestinian Territories. The visit was fruitful, and the delegation was impressed with the services and the eye health projects that the St. John Eye Hospital implements by international quality standards despite all obstacles of a complex operating environment.

The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) is an international development organisation working to eliminate avoidable blindness in 24 countries globally. FHF has been working in partnership with the St John Eye Hospital Group (SJEHG) since 2013 on research initiatives and the delivery of sight-saving programs in the Palestinian Territories.  SJEHG eye health programs in the West Bank have been generously supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) since 2019. Over this period over 30,000 patients have received screening and sight-saving surgeries.