Head of East Jerusalem hospital thanks UAE for its 'generous support'

Al Makassed's general director says $25m pledged by President Sheikh Mohamed will give the 250-bed clinic a new lease of life

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A $25m grant from President Sheikh Mohamed has saved a hospital in East Jerusalem from shutting down.

Al Makassed Hospital, a non-profit clinic run by an Islamic charity, was struggling to pay salaries and costs after the local government cut aid during the coronavirus pandemic.

It stopped taking non-emergency patients in April this year as bills mounted. There was a shortage of medicine that affected patient care but the grant from the UAE President, announced on Friday, will help it to continue its services, said Dr Adnan Farhoud, the hospital's general director.

The 250-bed hospital, which was established in 1968, is one of the main referral hospitals for the Palestinian community of Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. It provides specialist treatments such as cardiology, orthopaedics, paediatric medicine and neurology.

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Closing the hospital because of a financial crisis could have been a major disaster for the health sector in Palestine, but with the UAE’s support, the hospital won’t close its doors
Dr Adnan Farhoud, general director of Al Makassed Hospital

“The hospital is the largest in Palestine but was suffering because of issues with the Palestinian government and the income was reduced by 60 to 70 per cent after the government cut its aid during the pandemic," Dr Farhoud told The National.

"Pharmaceutical companies didn’t give medicines as the hospital didn’t pay its dues, and non-payment of salaries added to the problem.

"Sheikh Mohamed’s generous support will save the hospital and healthcare sector in the area. We are waiting for the aid details."

In April, the hospital closed its doors to all non-emergency patients as staff members went on a strike over the late payment of salaries and a lack of support.

The union ended the strike after an agreement was signed with the Ministry of Finance to pay a part of the hospital’s debts.

The 250-bed hospital, which was established in 1968, is one of the main referral hospitals for the Palestinian community of Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Photo: Getty

The agreement was to clear outstanding payments, including salaries but did not meet the hospital's daily needs.

“We are very thankful to the UAE for the timely support. The pledge by the UAE President will help us to continue to provide medical treatment to the needy and poor people” Dr Farhoud said.

He said 70 per cent of the patients are from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Many people who get injured in clashes in Al Aqsa and the Sheikh Jarrah area in East Jerusalem are treated for free at the hospital. With no support or income, this makes a big dent in the finances,” he said.

“It is a non-profit hospital and we cannot take money from poor patients when they arrive for treatment.”

The hospital also serves as a teaching and research facility for Al Quds University Faculty of Medicine.

To date, more than 600 doctors have graduated from the facility.

According to Palestinian media reports, the local government owes about $47 million to the hospital. A big part of this amount was spent on treating referral patients from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The World Health Organisation's support has helped.

They delivered surgical and other medical supplies worth $44,000 to the hospital in April to help it deal with the crisis.

In the last week of April, it delivered life-saving medicine and supplies to cover the urgent health needs of 11,000 people and helped in replenishing medical stocks.

“Closing the hospital because of a financial crisis could have been a major disaster for the health sector in Palestine, but with the UAE’s support, the hospital won’t close its doors,” said Dr Farhoud.

He said the hospital is ready to send a delegation to the UAE to thank Sheikh Mohamed for the generous gesture.

UAE's continuous support to people in Palestine

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the UAE is one of its largest donors and provided more than $187 million from 2015 to 2020 to carry out humanitarian work in various sectors in Palestine.

In October, the Emirates sent 60,000 Covid-19 vaccines and more than 36 tonnes of urgent medical aid for thousands of Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip.

During the first wave of the pandemic, the UAE sent the first shipment of medical aid and supplies in May 2020, followed by 22 tonnes of aid to help medics fight the pandemic.

In December 2020, a third plane was sent with 14.4 tonnes of medical supplies and testing kits to Gaza, helping more than 14,000 healthcare professionals.

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Updated: July 12, 2022, 7:45 AM
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