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Source: USAID West Bank & Gaza
16 October 2005




American support for Palestinian mothers and newborns in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK – A healthy start for newborns and their mothers served by the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem is the goal of a $3.5 million agreement recently awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Recognized as a leading provider of quality health care services for Palestinian mothers and babies in the Bethlehem area, the Holy Family Hospital will now have the resources to build a new Labor and Delivery Ward, expand its Emergency Department services, renovate a larger Nursery, and create a Day Care Center.


"With USAID’s support," explains Dr. Robert Tabash, the Hospital’s Director of Administration, "we will also be able to send nine doctors and seven nurses for training in advanced medical care for high-risknewborns pregnancies. Our doctors will also be trained in laparoscopic surgical procedures for faster patient recovery."

The USAID three-year project provides funding for upgrading the Hospital’s equipment for an expanded newborn intensive care unit, labor ward, and renovated operating rooms.

Providing Palestinian families with skills needed for healthier behavior can also help prevent many causes of maternal and child illness and death. USAID will support the development of an integrated patient education program so that Palestinian families can take action for healthier babies. Instruction for pregnant women will focus on good prenatal care, nutrition practices, breastfeeding, and immunizations.

Holy Family Hospital is the primary maternity care center for the Bethlehem area, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, several neighboring villages, refugee camps, and nomad settlements. They first opened their doors in 1895. Over the last decade, the number of annual deliveries has risen by 46%, with over 2,700 births at the facility in 2004. Number of outpatient consultations has increased almost three-fold, approaching 14,000 visits last year.

USAID has spent more than $1.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza to combat poverty, create jobs, improve education, build roads and water systems, construct and equip medical clinics, and promote good governance.

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