24 September 2013, Jerusalem – Despite recent European Union (EU) coverage of some of the Palestinian Authority (PA) debt to the East Jerusalem Hospitals (EJHs) by over US$ 17 million, the hospitals are still facing major cash flow problems as a result of accrued debt from the PA for specialized patient care, totalling US$ 24.15 million as of July 31, 2013. By the end of September 2013, this debt will exceed US$ 28 million. The PA’s debt to the EJHs has persisted over the last year as donor support to the PA has decreased.
The East Jerusalem Hospitals Network (EJHN) includes six facilities – Makassed Charitable Hospital, Augusta Victoria Hospital, St Joseph Hospital, St John Eye Hospital, Palestine Red Crescent Society Hospital and Princess Basma Rehabilitation Center – which serve as the main centres for specialized care within the Palestinian health system. Patients needing services and procedures that are not available in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are referred for treatment in the EJHN facilities by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
In 2012, a total of 25 381 West Bank and Gaza Strip patients were referred by the Ministry of Health to East Jerusalem, representing over 45% of all Ministry referrals, and more than half of the EJHN caseload.
The recent EU support to the PA has enabled the PA to provide remuneration to the EJHs for the services provided in 2012. Some of the EJHs also received payment for part of 2013. However, the PA debt to the EJHs continues to accumulate given the PA’s current lack of financial capacity to cover costs for patients referred for treatment in the EJHs, which would reach US$ 28 million. This continuous debt has negatively impacted hospital operations causing hospitals to request credit lines, delay payment to vendors and postpone staff salaries.
The EJHN and its six health facilities have been supported by the EU and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the last four years for quality improvement and institutional development. The achievements of this programme will also be threatened if the financial crisis continues.
The EJHN is seeking urgent financial assistance to sustain the services of the six hospitals. It is calling on donors to support the PA to meet its obligation towards the EJHs - and requesting that funds be allocated directly to the PA (or donated directly to the hospitals) to be used specifically for paying off PA debts to the EJHs.
WHO – Ms Aisha Mansour, 02-540-0595
EJHN Coordinator: Dr Tawfiq Nasser, 02-627-9902