Palestinian Authority approves Australian Initiative

November 29, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank now have access to improved healthcare thanks to a unique multi-faith partnership created in Australia that has won the endorsement of the Palestinian Authority.

Ron Finkel (President, Hadassah Australia), Dr Osnat Levtzion-Korach (CEO, Hadassah hospital Mt Scopus) Ambassador Izzad Abdulhadi & assoc Prof Julian Rait (Chair, Anglican Overseas Aid

Ron Finkel (President, Hadassah Australia), Dr Osnat Levtzion-Korach (CEO, Hadassah hospital Mt Scopus) Ambassador Izzad Abdulhadi & assoc Prof Julian Rait (Chair, Anglican Overseas Aid

Project Rozana brings together the Hadassah Australia Foundation; Anglican Overseas Aid, an overseas relief and development agency of the Anglican Church of Australia; and the world-renowned Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to provide:

>      Paediatric intensive care of Palestinian children with special acute medical needs at Hadassah Hospital.

>      Training of Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip at the hospital into needed specialisations, and

>      Training of Palestinian mental health workers at the hospital – specifically psychologists and trauma counsellors.

Following their training, the doctors, nurses, psychologists and counsellors will return to Gaza and the West Bank to build the capacity of their own health systems.

The project is named after Palestinian girl, Rozana Ghannam. In May 2012, four-year-old Rozana fell from a ninth floor balcony in her village near Ramallah sustaining life-threatening injuries.

Her mother Maysa insisted that Rozana be taken to Hadassah Hospital, which is acknowledged for providing the best paediatric intensive care in the Middle East. Rozana is now fully recovered and back at school.

The decision by the Palestinian Authority to consider a full partnership in Project Rozana was confirmed by Ambassador Izzat Abdulhadi, Head of the Palestinian Delegation to Australia, at a recent function in Melbourne. He was joined by Dr Osnat Levtzion, CEO of Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus.

Mr. Abdulhadi said, “For the first time, two private Australian organisations, Anglican Overseas Aid and the Hadassah Australia Foundation have established a partnership with the official backing of the Palestinian Authority, Ministry of Health.”

The ground-breaking initiative was conceived by the President of Hadassah Australia, Ron Finkel, in 2012. Earlier this year, Mr Finkel led a delegation to Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian Minister of Health, Dr Jawad Awad. Delegation members were Dr Levtzion, Professor Eitan Kerem, Head of the Department of Paediatrics at Hadassah, and Associate Professor Julian Rait, Chairman of the Board of Anglican Overseas Aid.

Mr Abdulhadir described Project Rozana as a human resource development program rather than a humanitarian one, which would be limited in its scope.

“The aim of Project Rozana is to build the institutional strength of the Palestinian health system which will contribute to the building of a Palestinian state,” Mr Abdulhadi said. “We learned from the Israelis because they started building their institutions before the establishment of a state. It is a ‘bottoms up’ approach which is really very important for us as Palestinians to be successful.”

He paid tribute to the work of Hadassah Hospital and its outreach to the Palestinian community. He said both he and his father had attended Hadassah as patients.

His sentiments were echoed by Dr Levtzion who said it was a mantra at Hadassah that “politics doesn’t get beyond the front gate.”

“We have a situation where some of our nurses live in settlements in the West Bank and some of our patients live in villages next to them,” she said.

“We have many examples every day of Orthodox Jews living alongside Muslims, Christians and secular Jews, where their health and the health of their children is the only priority. Hadassah proves the point that we can co-exist as people.”

Mr Finkel paid tribute to Anglican Overseas Aid which signed on to Project Rozana after being introduced to the initiative by Ambassador Abdulhadi in 2012.

“This is one of the most important multi-faith partnerships ever undertaken in Australia,” Mr Finkel said. “It is also unique in that we have a Jewish and a Christian organisation in Australia raising funds to provide for the health needs of predominantly Muslim communities in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

“It is consistent with Hadassah’s message of healing, teaching and research in support of all people, irrespective of their faith, nationality or politics. This message has resonated for more than a century and is a reason why Hadassah Hospital was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.”

Although Rozana and Maysa Abu Ghannam were not present at the function, having visited Australia in May this year, their experience was a constant theme at the Melbourne function.

During her visit, Maysa said: “When the Palestinian ambulance arrived, I said that Rozana must go to Hadassah Hospital. Everyone knows that while there is conflict between Israel and Palestine, none of that matters at Hadassah.

“I wanted the best for my daughter and what Hadassah achieved for her is a miracle, a miracle of life. If it hadn’t been for them I don’t think she would have survived.

“At Hadassah you are a human being, that’s all. You are a person – without politics, without religion, without colour.”

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