Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK
PO Box 320
Telephone: 0844 22 50 300
You can reach us weekdays from
8.00 am to 5.00 pm.
During the past year, Children’s Relief Bethlehem has further intensified its activities in Bethlehem and throughout the Middle East. “In almost 60 years of working in the region we have rarely treated so many children at Caritas Baby Hospital and supported so many suffering families,” said Andreas Bachofner, Chairman of Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK, at the launch of the newly registered charity in England and the presentation of the Annual Report 2009 of the hospital. Hospital staff are worried about the increasing number of newborn babies with low birth weight. Children’s Relief Bethlehem currently sees no signs that political and economic conditions in Palestine could improve.
Over the past year, the doctors at the Caritas Baby Hospital have treated more than 32,500 children in the hospital’s outpatient and in-patient clinics. Even with the restrictions caused by the on-going extension and renovation of the hospital, the number of patients has constantly increased. For UK Operations Manager, Daniel Hurter, this is a clear indication of the growing need in Bethlehem and surrounding areas. More and more families have to depend on support from outside agencies – especially when their children are ill. Poverty is on the rise in Palestine leading to more illnesses related to deprivation.
The doctors at the baby hospital are closely monitoring poverty related illnesses. Last year the increase in the number of babies with low birth weight was very conspicuous. “During pregnancy and lactation, many women hardly ingest more than tea, rice and bread” explains Medical Director Dr. Hiyam Marzouqa. “The bad physical condition of the mothers has direct negative consequences for the babies’ development,” continues Marzouqa. The most frequent diagnoses at the baby hospital are poverty related illnesses.
Another important aspect of the work carried out in 2009 was project work and disaster relief, seen clearly in the Gaza war at the beginning of 2009. Thanks to the long-term cooperation with project partners in the Gaza Strip, Children’s Relief Bethlehem was able to deliver invaluable medical support even while the fighting continued.
A few weeks ago a 10-hour-old baby boy named Shaddad was in a very critical condition with suspected cyanotic heart disease. Dr Rula Awwad, Paediatric Cardiologist at Caritas Baby Hospital diagnosed Shaddad with dextro-transposition of the great arteries, which means that the aorta and pulmonary artery are reversed. The aorta receives the oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle, but it’s carried back to the body without receiving more oxygen. Likewise, the pulmonary artery receives the oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle but carries it back to the lungs. Shaddad required urgent specialist treatment, normally only available outside the Bethlehem area. There is not a medical facility that provides treatment for these procedures in the whole of the Bethlehem area. Dr Rula tried to contact other hospitals in Palestine and Jerusalem but they were not able to respond immediately. Time was running out for Shaddad so Dr Rula, assisted by other medical staff, performed a life saving umbilical vein catheterization procedure. Shaddad’s condition improved dramatically; his oxygen saturation increased from 20 percent to 80 percent and his life was saved. Two days later, he was transferred to a hospital in Israel for surgery to repair his heart defect.
Shaddad is living proof of the mission of Children’s Relief Bethlehem and Caritas Baby Hospital, very often done despite limited medical resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. With the added difficulty in this case because of the lack of a paediatric catheterization laboratory in the Southern part of the West Bank.
Success is only possible because of all generous donors who enable Children’s Relief Bethlehem to accomplish its mission. The launching of ‘Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK’ in England is another step towards supporting this mission and an opportunity to help save the life of many children in this area of regional conflict.
For the current year, Daniel Hurter is counting on the support from donors in the UK. “Again we are facing many challenges, which can only be tackled with the help of our supporters in the UK” states Hurter.