UK FRIENDS OF THE PERES INSTITUTE FOR PEACE

Saving Children

To alleviate human suffering in the Palestinian Authority by reducing mortality and morbidity amongst Palestinian children, whilst tangibly improving their quality of life. Furthermore, to create a direct and continuous working relationship between Palestinian and Israeli civil society, and positively contribute to the process of reconciliation.

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    Categories

  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Poverty Alleviation/ReliefPoverty Alleviation/Relief

    Helping

  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)

Location

Situation

The Palestinian population has suffered greatly from ongoing violence, daily closures, movement restrictions, and prolonged economic hardship as a result of the conflict. As children comprise a large portion of the total Palestinian population, these youngsters are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of the conflict, susceptible to disease and injury. While the Palestinian healthcare system has never been state-of-the-art, the conflict has placed increasing demands on the system, limiting its ability to provide adequate care to its citizens. Accordingly, the "Saving Children" initiative seeks to address this humanitarian crisis, by facilitating the referral of Palestinian children who have urgent medical needs (complex investigations, diagnoses, medical procedures) that cannot be treated in the Palestinian Authority to Israeli hospitals for treatment. Ultimately, this project seeks to substantially reduce the mortality rate among Palestinian children, and improve the overall health of Palestinian children, while fostering Palestinian-Israeli cooperation. The primary task of the Peres Center for Peace in this initiative involves coordinating and facilitating the efforts of Palestinian pediatricians to identify and refer children – with urgent medical needs that cannot be met in the Palestinian Authority – to available medical facilities and pediatric specialist centers in Israel. In recent years, there has been an increased demand for orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation following amputations and severe injuries. Additionally, there is a high prevalence of life-threatening congenital cardiac defects, for which treatment is practically unavailable in the Palestinian Authority. Other operations in high demand include pediatric-neuro and orthopedic surgery, post-burn reconstruction, pulmonology, hemato-oncology, and other specific complex conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat with the limited resources of Palestinian doctors. The project has established a wide network comprised of some 50 Palestinian primary care pediatricians and approximately 30 Palestinian secondary care physicians working in hospitals. The treatment priorities are set by an Advisory Committee comprised solely of Palestinian pediatricians, who evaluate whether or not the Palestinian medical system has the resources to treat these children, and refers patients accordingly. Additionally, four major Israeli university hospitals are committed to supporting this important project through their provision of services, as well as financial assistance (by reducing their fees by up to 50%). A Task Force organized by the Peres Center oversees coordination between Palestinian and Israeli medical practitioners and institutions, and provides logistical support such as military entry permits, transportation, communication with parents, setting appointments, negotiating financial arrangements with receiving hospitals, and assuring follow-up treatment, medical reporting and communication with referring physicians. The costs of the procedures and the complicated logistical arrangements are covered entirely by the Peres Center, with no expenses whatsoever accrued by the child or family. Since the program's launch in 2003 through to the end of December 2008, "Saving Children" received some 6,560 referrals, and reached out to more than 5,900 children (with a demographic breakdown of 58% boys and 42% girls, 14% of whom were referred from Gaza and 86% from the West Bank). These referrals have resulted in 5,300 diagnoses and consultations, and 1,228 surgeries. Of the surgeries, 689 babies and children have been referred for cardiac surgery, 58 for cleft lip and palate reconstruction, 129 for neurosurgery, 129 for bone marrow transplants, 81 for cochlear implantations, 66 for orthopedic surgery, and 76 youngsters have undergone other complex surgeries, including vascular, urology, plastic and reconstruction, ophthalmology, gastro, thoracic and pulmonary procedures. Also, 10 children with cancer have been referred for chemotherapy and 23 have been referred for dialysis to a Palestinian hospital via this initiative.

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