Palestine: Many people in former British Empire countries are familiar with St John Ambulance and its work. From Hong Kong to Canada and New Zealand to Sri Lanka, the organisation provides healthcare to millions of people.
In some countries, St John Ambulance provides the official Government emergency paramedic services. On just over 50% of Australia’s land mass, if you call 000 (Australia’s 911 Dispatch number), it will be St John Ambulance Paramedics or Volunteers that respond. St John provides the Ambulance Service in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
In other countries, St John provides volunteer first aid services and trains millions of people in CPR and other first aid training. On World Sight Day 2016, we are throwing the spotlight on to new eye care hospitals that support the communities of Palestine.
But did you know that Order of St John also runs a charitable eye hospital in Jerusalem? And that it remains the leading charitable provider of eye care in Jerusalem?
With the support of St John Ambulance around the world, St John Eye Hospital provides eye care to communities in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It also runs a Mobile Outreach Programme which serves the many isolated villages of the West Bank.
The facilities welcome people of all races and religions, but principally serves the Palestinian population in the area.
In 2015 across their services St John Eye Hospital saw 128,000 patients and performed over 5,000 operations.
With the support of St John Ambulance Scotland and other organisations, a lone piper played at the opening of the new St John Eye Hospital was in Hebron, in the West Bank.
In another major milestone, a new facility was also opened in Gaza this year, The St John Eye Hospital Group Gaza.
Both new hospitals can care for more patients, with improved access and new equipment
St John also provides training for student nurses and medical residents to specialise in ophthalmology. The Training Programmes are the only ones of its kind in Palestine. Training local nurses has allowed them to contribute to the fractured infrastructure in the area.
Pictured below are their Nursing School graduates 2016 with their tutors. Many of the student nurses will go on to work for St John for their whole careers (like Ahmad Ma’ali, current Nursing Director, who was a student nurse in 1993, he is four in from the left).
Other nurses will go and work in government hospitals bringing expert knowledge to the region. St John Australia sponsor two Nursing School tutors, Nazrallah and Walid (they are second from the left back row, and one in from the right of the back row).
The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group offer an absolutely vital service to the region. Grandmother of recent glaucoma patient, Rima, aged 2, from a very rural part of Gaza, made this clear when she said ‘I don’t know where else to turn… St John is our only option for Rima.’
The Order of St John of Jerusalem exists around the world helping to fund this vital eye care service in the Holy Land. St John organisations from Australia, Canada, United States, Scotland, England, Wales, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and others contributed over £2.2 milllion last year to help this vital service to continue!