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Israeli hospital announces training program for Palestinian health workers

During his visit, Biden will announce U.S. funding for Palestinian hospitals and the president reportedly also asked Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar to match these funds

Remote training program for Palestinian healthcare workers at Sheba Medical Center (Photo: Sheba Medical Center)

An Israeli hospital has started a program to train Palestinian health workers in remote care for pregnant women, according to a statement.

Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer released a statement on Tuesday that its OB-GYN Beyond initiative has been training these workers to use tele-health technologies to enable remote monitoring of mothers and their children in the womb. 

Gynecologists, midwives, nurses, a pediatrician, a nutritionist, a physical therapist and a psychologist are participating in the program. The medical center will provide the participating healthcare workers with regular support, twice a month.  

Pregnant women in the West Bank and Gaza – with insufficient healthcare and, in some cases, impoverished – face a higher risk of pregnancy complications, even though the mortality rate for pregnant women in these areas has dropped, The Times of Israel reported

Sheba’s OB-GYN Beyond initiative means that women, who otherwise would have had trouble accessing prenatal healthcare, will now be able to receive the care that they need. 

To finance the program, the medical center joined up with Project Rozana, a fund-raising initiative established in 2013, “to use Israeli excellence in healthcare, to benefit the Palestinian community,” according to the project’s website.

Project Rozana raises funds to train Palestinian healthcare workers in Israeli hospitals, for the transportation of Palestinian patients to Israeli hospitals from border checkpoints at Gaza and the West Bank and for the treatment of critically ill Palestinian children in Israeli hospitals.

“Enabling Palestinians to provide healthcare in their remote communities lays the groundwork for an empowered people,” said Ronit Zimmer, Project Rozana executive director. “The training at Sheba will enable local healthcare workers to operate virtual clinics in remote areas, eliminating many logistical, bureaucratic and security obstacles for rural residents seeking quality healthcare.”

In a statement, Dr. Avi Tsur, director of OB-GYN Beyond, said that telemedicine allows for the bridging of gaps to achieve optimal health outcomes. 

“Our goal at OB-GYN Beyond is to provide women with the medical care they need, wherever they are located,” said Tsur, who is the director of the Women’s Health Innovation Center at Sheba Medical Center. 

“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,” he said.

The OB-GYN program was announced ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and the West Bank this week. 

While in Israel, Biden is expected to announce $100 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals in eastern Jerusalem and will visit one of them – the Augusta Victoria Hospital – during his visit. 

According to Axios, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides has held several meetings with officials from the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister's Office to discuss aid to the Palestinian hospitals. 

Nides reportedly told the Israeli officials that there is bipartisan support for the aid because several of the hospitals are connected to Christian organizations and foundations. 

Biden has asked Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to match the amount in U.S. aid to the hospitals. Only the UAE has responded so far, pledging $25 million to Jerusalem’s Makassed Hospital.

In addition, Biden also asked Israel to extend funding for the hospitals, but reportedly there has not yet been a response to the request. 

According to two unnamed U.S. officials, Biden hopes to engage Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar more in Palestinian issues, and to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one side with the Palestinian Authority on the other, as both countries have poor relations with the P.A.’s leadership. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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