More than 300,000 children live in the area surrounding the only children’s hospital in the Palestinian West Bank. Newborns are often admitted with respiratory disorders, infections and hereditary diseases.
The clinic’s own social service team also provides consultations outside the hospital - pictured here making a house visit to a Bedouin family in the desert.
The Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem is the only children’s hospital in the Palestinian West Bank. Back in 1952, a priest called Ernst Schnydrig was struck by the poverty of the area and decided to build a children’s hospital. What started as a small house with 14 beds has become the modern hospital it is today with beds for 90 children. More than 36,000 young patients are treated at the clinic every year, which is located near the nine-meter high wall separating Palestine from Israel.
For certain procedures, children are transferred to a hospital in Jerusalem. This is a complicated journey because anyone crossing the border between Palestine and Israel requires a transfer permit. The hospital is just a 10 minute drive away, but waiting for the permit and negotiating the various roadblocks and border controls can take hours. This wasted time is crucial, and in the worst cases it can mean the difference between life and death for a sick child.
Caritas has its work cut out. With more than 300,000 children in the clinic’s catchment area, it’s impossible to guarantee adequate medical care. But patients are treated in the hospital regardless of their faith, nationality and financial background. Chief Physician Hiyam Marzouqza-Awad leads a team of more than 30 doctors and nurses, who also provide care for the mothers of children receiving treatment. There are regular training sessions for the clinic’s employees to ensure they give patients the best possible care. Caritas Baby Hospital is funded by an organization called Children’s Relief Bethlehem, where they certainly do justice to their company slogan “we are here.”
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