So the Children Can Smile Again

In 2016, more than 46,000 children found help at the Caritas Baby Hospital.

Around 330,000 children under the age of 14 are living in the south of the West Bank, the area between Bethlehem and Hebron. If they get sick, the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem is the place to go. It is the only hospital in the West Bank that cares exclusively for children.

Their first stop is the Outpatient Clinic, with its general consultations and special programa: for example for children with respiratory ailments, development problems or metabolic disorders. The Outpatient Clinic is known far beyond Bethlehem itself for its excellent ultrasound and Echokardiografie department.

Up to 82 children can be treated in the inpatient wards of the Caritas Baby Hospital. Thanks to the intensive care unit established in 2013, the Caritas Baby Hospital is also well-equipped to deal with emergencies and children in critical conditions

The Caritas Baby Hospital is characterised by its holistic treatment approach – mothers and parents are systematically included in the treatments. Mothers can stay overnight in the hospital, allowing them to be near to their children. This has a positive effect on the well-being of the children and the healing process. When children require inpatient treatment, the mothers take an active part in caring for them. Our counselors use the mothers’ time at the hospital as an opportunity to talk with them. In what we call the Mothers’ School, the women learn how to care for their children so as to prevent further illness. This is the only program of its kind in Palestine. Children’s Relief Bethlehem considers it an important contribution to preventive healthcare in the region. 

During their child’s stay in the Caritas Baby Hospital, the mothers also receive visits from our social workers. In many cases, they are able to work together to find solutions for the family’s problems. In this effort, our social services work closely with other local institutions.

The Caritas Baby Hospital is acknowledged by the Palestinian authorities as a "teaching hospital" and medical students can specialise in paediatrics at the hospital. Moreover, the hospital also houses a CCE – Centre for Continuous Education. It offers further education courses for its staff and people from outside the hospital.

In 1952, a spontaneous action by Swiss priest Father Ernst Schnydrig, Palestinian physician Dr. Antoine Dabdoub and Swiss nurse Hedwig Vetter resulted in the founding of Caritas Baby Hospital. They did not want to allow children in Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus Christ – to be denied qualified healthcare. Their promise, "We are there!” motivates and inspires the supporters of Children’s Relief Bethlehem yet today. Today still, the needy receive treatment free of charge. Despite wars, occupations and shifts in the balance of power, the doors of Caritas Baby Hospital have remained open to all for over 60 years.