(LWI) - The Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem has received vital funding from both the United States and the European Union, enabling it to continue providing life-saving health care services to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
During a June visit to the hospital, which is owned and operated by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), U.S. President Joe Biden pledged a USD 100 million multi-year commitment to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, of which AVH is a member.
Biden also encouraged other nations in the region and beyond to support AVH’s work. “I’m honored to be able to see first-hand the service and quality of care you provide the Palestinian people,” he said. “These hospitals are the backbone of the Palestinian health care system.”
Over the past two weeks, AVH officials announced that a payment of EUR 11.3 million had been made by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), while a further EUR 15.6 million had been received from the European Union. The EU supports the East Jerusalem Hospital Network by payments to the Palestinian Authority through the so called PEGASE financial mechanism.
We will plan the intake of new patients gradually based on the guarantee of receiving regular payments from the Palestinian Authority.
– Sieglinde Weinbrenner, LWF representative in Jerusalem
Sieglinde Weinbrenner, LWF’s representative in Jerusalem said: “With the payments of the US and the EU we are able to continue our quality health care services and treatment for our AVH patients. We will plan the intake of new patients gradually based on the guarantee of receiving regular payments from the Palestinian Authority.”
For several years, AVH has been facing a financial crisis due to extensive delays in payments of bills for patients referred for treatment by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The hospital, located on the Mount of Olives, offers specialized cancer care, pediatric kidney dialysis and other treatments that are unavailable elsewhere in the region.
Since September 2021, the funding shortages had forced the hospital to suspend the intake of new patients. Its Chief Executive Officer Dr Fadi Atrash confirmed in June that at least 500 people referred to AVH with cancer diagnoses had been unable to access treatments. He said the hospital was operating at reduced capacity due to lack of money to pay for medication and other supplies.
Weinbrenner underlined the urgency of receiving the EU funds allocated for 2022 in a timely manner to allow for a return to full capacity and guaranteed services for patients. She added that she hoped that President Biden’s visit “would open doors for other donors to match the aid package” pledged by the U.S.