Project Rozana launches new maternal-fetal telemedicine program to aid Palestinians

July 14, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Australian NGO, Project Rozana has launched a pilot project in the West Bank to provide much-needed health services to over 145,000 women who currently have limited access to health care.

Training in process Photo: Sheba Medical Centre

Project Rozana is a not-for-profit organization aiming to build a better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through healthcare.

Project Rozana’s Women4Women initiative has partnered with the largest hospital in Israel, Sheba Medical Centre – ranked as one of the 10 best hospitals in the world – to train local Palestinian health workers and provide ongoing diagnostic and service support.

The project will operate in Area C, which constitutes over 60% of the West Bank and is home to 3.3 million Palestinians. The World Health Organization and other regional healthcare stakeholders have identified 145,000 women and children from rural communities in the area as at risk due to limited or no access to primary healthcare. Inadequate infrastructure, transportation complexities, and financial and cultural barriers create obstacles to accessible healthcare and the pandemic has amplified these by forcing a scaling-down of services by major providers.

Gender inequality in Palestinian society is also a driving factor in the chronic poverty, food insecurity, and poor health women face.

A wholistic team including nurses, a midwife, physiotherapist, psychologist, nutritionist, pediatrician and dentist will provide services to address women’s physical, mental and social wellbeing.  Virtual clinics will provide services to women in the target communities of Khursa, Um Al-Kheir and Deir al-Asal al-Fuqua, screening for health issues and referring for medical treatment if necessary.

A remote obstetrics/gynaecology unit in the rural Hebron area will be fully operated by Palestinian healthcare teams. The goal is to provide women with the care they need wherever they are located.  Telehealth services will help to bridge political and cultural gaps and female health workers will help to mitigate cultural concerns about male doctors treating women.

OB-GYN Beyond, Sheba’s virtual OBGYN department, has pioneered maternal-fetal telemedicine, creating a breakthrough in remote fetal assessment by providing remote care for pregnant women in Israel. The collaboration between OB-GYN Beyond (part of the Sheba Beyond virtual hospital platform) and Project Rozana aims to establish a remote OB-GYN unit in the rural Hebron area that will be fully operated by Palestinian healthcare teams.

“Our goal at OB-GYN Beyond is to provide women with the medical care they need, wherever they are located,” said Dr Avi Tsur, director of the Women’s Health Innovation Center at Sheba Medical Center and director of OB-GYN Beyond. “Telemedicine allows us to bridge geographical, political and cultural gaps in the shared vision of optimal health outcomes. We are excited to work with Project Rozana in achieving this goal.”

The program launch coincides with President Biden’s visit to the region and his announcement of USA$100m in aid to Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem.

“President Biden’s support for Palestinian healthcare endorses our belief in the power of health as a pathway to peace building,” says Project Rozana chair, Ron Finkel.  “Investing in Palestinian civil society and infrastructure helps to build capacity and resilience. In particular, this program will assist Palestinians to provide healthcare in remote communities that are currently vastly underserviced.”

“Our goal is to provide Palestinian women with the medical care they need, wherever they are located and to bridge geographic, political and cultural gaps in a shared vision of optimal health outcomes.”

Upon conclusion of the training, the participants—gynecologists, midwives, nurses, a pediatrician, a nutritionist, a physical therapist and a psychologist—will receive ongoing clinical support on a bi-monthly basis from Sheba.

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