(LWI) - The Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem has received vital funding from the United States government which will enable it to secure life-saving medication for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The hospital is the only facility providing radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories and the only West Bank hospital offering pediatric kidney dialysis.
In July 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden visited the hospital which was established over 70 years ago and is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). On that occasion, he announced a USD 100 million multi-year commitment to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN), to which AVH belongs. The latest transfer of €17.78 million to the hospital, made on 3 October, brings to USD 40 million the amount that the EJHN has received since that visit.
LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt said: “We are deeply grateful that the U.S. administration has responded to our urgent request to increase payments,” to the hospital, which has been struggling with a recurring cash crisis. “This funding will enable AVH to pay its suppliers and thus ensure urgent medication is provided for patients in its care,” she said.
Intake of new patients suspended
However, Dr Fadi Atrash, CEO of the hospital on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, noted that AVH continues to struggle with a lack of financial stability due to delayed and insufficient payments from the Palestinian Authority, which refers patients to the LWF-run facility. He stressed that since 2021 the hospital has been forced to suspend the intake of any new patients.
“Since then, hundreds of people, referred to us with cancer diagnoses, have been unable to access treatment and the specialized care that we can offer,” he insisted.
Sieglinde Weinbrenner, LWF’s representative in Jerusalem, reiterated the hope that the U.S support for the hospital would “open doors for other donors to match the aid package” pledged by Washington. She said it remains urgent for the European Union to transfer funds it has allocated to the hospital for 2023, without which “AVH is unable to guarantee timely treatment or start taking in new patients who urgently need our services,” she said.”