Dialog Box

August 2021 Newsletter

We mark the end of a successful fund-raising campaign. Read about this and more highlights of programs and people. 


Ron Finkel, Chair, Project Rozana International

Health is the cornerstone of Project Rozana, but so too is our desire to see peace and equity between Israelis and Palestinians. Now, for the first time since 2013, we see an energy, driving positive change between people. Thanks to a new political reality in the region.

We were heartened and excited by news that emerged in late July about a meeting between the health ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Relations between the two groups have been strained for a long time, making it more difficult to achieve positive outcomes.

Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz met with the PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila and agreed to a number of extremely important initiatives, including:

  • Palestinians vaccinated against the coronavirus in PA hospitals will now be recognized by Israel as immunised.
  • Palestinians from Gaza seeking to enter Israel for medical treatment will no longer need to walk across no man’s land between PA and Israeli checkpoints. Instead, they will be ferried by ambulance.

Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej, a veteran Israeli politician, said,

“The deadlock in relations (between Israel and the PA) over the past ten years is unacceptable… You can’t be someone’s neighbour and at the same time ignore one another.”

Despite the political impasse that has been a stumbling block to relations between the communities, there was an abundance of goodwill in the health sectors prior to our entry.

Even during the most fractious time between Israelis and Palestinians, Project Rozana has been steadily, quietly and effectively delivering on its promise to build bridges to better understanding between the communities through projects that help increase the health capacity of Palestinian society.

In particular, it was our desire to see a pathway to health for Palestinian children that informed our approach.

The foundations were solid. We knew this when the COVID-19 pandemic hit both communities hard. Had we not established our bona fides with both governments, it is doubtful we could have delivered desperately needed ventilators and associated equipment in mid-2020 to Palestinian hospitals in a timely and targeted way.

It needed both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to fast-track our entry into their respective spheres.

Neither Israel nor Palestine was prepared for the impact on their respective societies. The learning curve has been steep and challenging, and on a scale that we haven’t known in our lifetime.

The tragedy of COVID-19 revealed the fault lines as the world scrambled to understand how to deal with the pandemic.

Even though the two communities are within walking distance at their closest point, for some it is a bridge too far. That is what Project Rozana has been focused on and in eight years we have made enormous gains in building awareness globally to our mission.

What Project Rozana was able to do was codify that goodwill by developing a strategy aimed at three core initiatives:

  1. Advanced training for Palestinian doctors, nurses and therapists in Israel or via remote learning.
  2. Free return transport of critically and chronically-ill Palestinians (mainly children) from their homes to hospitals in Israel via the border checkpoints (from the checkpoints to hospitals in the case of Gazan patients).
  3. In-hospital treatment for Palestinian children where the needed specialisations were not available or in limited supply in the Palestinian healthcare system.

Project Rozana is well positioned to leverage the warming ties between the two governments for the benefit of Palestinian children and their wider community."

Ron Finkel

Chair, Project Rozana International

Wheels of hope campaign

More than US$330,000 has been raised so far, in Project Rozana’s first-ever global fundraiser in support of Wheels of Hope (WoH).

The WoH initiative brings together three partner organizations in Israel and Palestine. Their volunteers provide a free return transport service for critically and chronically-ill Palestinian children and their caregivers to hospitals in Israel.

Tagged as ‘Help us build bridges towards peace one car journey at a time”, the campaign recently ended in the USA, Canada and Australia. A specific campaign to launch Project Rozana UK will begin in early September.

Declaring the outcome an “impressive achievement”, the Chair of Project Rozana International, Ron Finkel AM, said despite the impact of COVID-19 on people’s giving capacity, the outpouring of support showed that WoH has resonated with people everywhere.

Mr Finkel said,

“They recognise that we cannot ignore critically and chronically-ill Palestinian children or their parents who are desperate to bring them back to good health. Phase 1 of the campaign, involving the US, Canada and Australia exceeded the $300,000 target by more than 10%.

Whatever divides Palestinians and Israelis, the love they have for their children is shared. This is their common humanity and WoH is both a literal and metaphoric bridge between them.

Our Israeli and Palestinian volunteer drivers are the lifeline for sick children from Gaza and the West Bank. They are selfless and committed to a cause that is critical for these children.

One day we hope to see all Palestinian children accessing their needed treatment in Palestinian hospitals. That is one of the core aspirations of Project Rozana. In the meantime, WoH is the lifeline for these Palestinian children and their families, many of whom do not have the financial means to pay for commercial transport.

Our life-saving work has been recognised by many governments and NGOs. It has meant that Project Rozana is considered to be a serious international contributor to enhanced health outcomes for Palestinians.”

Mr Finkel said that building bridges to peace one car journey at a time is a practical expression of a long-held dream. He paid tribute to the many supporters whose generosity will not only see WoH survive into the future but thrive.

WoH involves three partner organizations,

  • Road to Recovery in Israel.
  • Humans without Borders in Israel.
  • Green Land Society for Health Development in the West Bank.

Wheels of hope campaign events

Two outstanding webinars supporting our Wheels of Hope global campaign were held in July. Each online event helped friends and supporters in North America and Australia appreciate the depth and meaning of our Wheels of Hope operation. 

The Project Rozana North American Wheels of Hope Interfaith event was held on 7 July, co-sponsored by 58 American and Canadian faith leaders, communities and organizations.

It was an inspiring 45-minute program with faith leaders, elected officials and activists from the region sharing their commitment to Project Rozana’s mission and the Wheels of Hope campaign.

Together with Project Rozana USA and Canada board chairs, Kenneth Bob and Jon Allen, the speakers brought greetings and shared their inspiring thoughts during the event.

We were honored to hear from Member of the U.S. Congress Jamie Raskin (pictured left below), who is a longtime friend of Project Rozana, having hosted a Capitol Hill briefing for guests on our North American Speakers’ Tour in 2019.

Ya’ara Saks, a Member of the Canadian Parliament (pictured right below), voiced her support for the Wheels of Hope initiative, referencing friends in Jerusalem who serve as volunteer drivers.

We heard moving sentiments from faith leaders Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Reverend Canon Laurette Glasgow and Imam Talib M. Shareef, as well as greetings from John Lyndon, Executive Director, ALLMEP (Alliance for Middle East Peace). 

The central presentation of the evening was a panel with our partners from the region. (shown above). They were Road to Recovery, Green Land Society for Health Development and Humans Without Borders, moderated by the Executive Director of Project Rozana Israel, Ronit Zimmer. 

Two videos were shown during the event, both deeply moving.

Hebron mother Lujain speaks openly about the difficulty of the daily visits to Hadassah Hospital for her beautiful little daughter Natsheh’s cancer treatment, expressing her heartfelt thanks and blessings to the drivers on both sides.

The touching video of Abdallah’s Journey beautifully relays the heartfelt thanks of both little Abdallah and his mother, a young Palestinian driver and an older Israeli driver for their role in supporting Abdallah’s short life.

The Abdallah video was also shown during the second online event.

Organized by Project Rozana Australia, on 25 July, the second webinar explored the work of Wheels of Hope through the eyes of,

  • Broadcaster and journalist, Hugh Riminton, who moderated the session.
  • Huda Abuarquob, Regional Director of ALLMEP (Alliance for Middle-East Peace).
  • Vivian Silver, former co-Executive Director of AJEEC-NISPED (the Negev Institute of Strategies of Peace and Development).

They were joined by well-respected social justice advocate Rev Tim Costello AO (former CEO of World Vision Australia).

Our first capacity-building initiative finally 'graduates'

The dream of Project Rozana has been to create programs that build capacity in the Palestinian health system, on the back of Israeli medical expertise. This dream was realised with the graduation on 18 August of Israeli and Palestinian trainees, who participated in the Peritoneal Dialysis Training Program. 

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the graduates and program leadership teams at Assuta Ashdod Hospital and Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

We heard moving sentiments from faith leaders Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Reverend Canon Laurette Glasgow and Imam Talib M. Shareef, as well as greetings from John Lyndon, Executive Director, ALLMEP (Alliance for Middle East Peace).

Palestinian patients are already benefiting from the program, with an increasing number being treated in local hospitals closer to where they live. The success of this process exemplifies the essence of Project Rozana’s mission to build better understanding between Israeli and Palestinian health professionals.

Project Rozana’s success is judged on giving Palestinian health professionals a hand-up rather than giving Palestinian patients a hand-out. Credit in this instance goes to Prof Adi Leiba of Assuta Ashdod Hospital, who identified the gap, quantified the need and over two years created a plan to address it.

What resulted is a sustainable program whose fruit was borne with the graduation ceremony earlier this month.

Program leaders, Prof Leiba, Dr Hausmann, and Dr Nidal Saifi (Augusta Victoria Hospital), expressed their pride on this landmark achievement. They were joined by distinguished guests,

  • Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana (via Zoom).
  • Dr Erez Barenboim, CEO, Assuta Ashdod Hospital.
  • Mr Walid Namour, CEO, Augusta Victoria Hospital East Jerusalem.
  • Doron Levinson, Chair Project Rozana Israel.
  • Dr Raid Mansour, Regional Director Project Rozana.

The Project Rozana Peritoneal Dialysis Training Program began in early 2019. It built a program to expand the professional skills of Israel health professionals and their Palestinian counterparts from Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

Following the ceremony, the participants held a warm and open discussion on the subject of building a bridge between Israelis and Palestinians through medicine.

It was acknowledged that this was a major, ground-breaking program that will have a significant and positive impact among vulnerable Palestinians.

Below is Prof Adi Leiba of of Assuta Ashdod Hospital and Mr Walid Namour, CEO, Augusta Victoria Hospital East Jerusalem.

We are pleased to share Prof Leiba’s thoughts on the program,

“A while ago we finished a unique training of Palestinian and Israeli Nephrologists and Dialysis Nurses on Home Peritoneal Dialysis. It was a collaboration of Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, Augusta Victoria Hospital and the Palestinian and Israeli Renal Society, through Project Rozana funding.

It is great to know that the Peritoneal Dialysis unit that was opened at Augusta Victoria Hospital as a result of this training is taking care of 11 adults and as many as 10 kids from East Jerusalem and the West Bank."

To mark conclusion of training there was a presentation of certificates to the graduates at Assuta Ashdod Hospital in mid-August. Prof Leiba paid tribute to the leadership of the Project Rozana affiliates for making the program possible. Prof Leiba was one of North America’s guest speakers on a well-received speaking tour in USA and Canada in early 2018, a tour that spear-headed the establishment of this exciting program.

He said he was “extremely proud” of what had been achieved and excited about the possibility of future projects that Project Rozana was keen to discuss.

See too, the next story, ‘An Idea Bears Fruit Over Dinner’.

Above is the team of PD program participants: Doctors, Nurses, Dieticians, Medical Technicians, Secretaries, Social Workers, Invasive Radiologists, Surgeons and Researchers.

An idea bears fruit over dinner

Life for those on dialysis means five-hour dialysis visits to hospital, three times a week. Prof Leiba posed the question, “If there was an option available, one that would make life considerably easier for Palestinian families, is it something that Project Rozana would consider?” 

The story behind the Project Rozana-inspired Peritoneal Dialysis Training Program is no less fascinating than the program itself. 

It began in February 2018 with a chance conversation over dinner between,

  • Dr Adi Leiba, Head of Nephrology at the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod (pictured left).
  • Dr Khadra Salami, a Palestinian paediatric oncologist at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem (centre).
  • Kenneth Bob, Chair of Project Rozana USA (right).

Prof Leiba and Dr Salami were in the US on a Project Rozana lecture tour hosted by the local affiliate.

Talk turned to ideas that would address known gaps in the Palestinian health system.

For Prof Leiba, there was one that was critically important for the well-being of a growing number of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

This Associate Professor at Harvard and Chairman of the Israel Society for Hypertension, as well as the Co-Chair of the Palestine and Israel Renal Society, has been increasingly concerned about the prevalence of diabetes in the Palestinian population.

In conversation he noted that at 15.3%, it is 2.5 times the rate compared to 6%  worldwide. As a result, most Palestinian hospitals support large hemodialysis departments.

Ever the man inspired by a mission, Kenneth Bob said it sounded like the dialysis issue, was a challenge that Project Rozana was born to tackle.

Prof Leiba explained that Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) delivered in the home is well-known and supported in most developed countries but is not available in Palestine.

He proposed that Assuta Hospital and Augusta Victoria Hospital cooperate in a game-changing partnership. That is the training and mentoring of a team of Palestinian health professionals at Assuta in the implementation and delivery of a PD service to Palestinian renal failure patients.

Mr Bob embraced the idea as did the Project Rozana International Board. In early 2019 a two-year fellowship and training program in PD was launched.

Fully funded by Project Rozana, twelve Palestinian doctors and nurses met weekly in the nephrology department at Assuta and cultivated their skill and understanding of this new modality of dialysis treatment.

On 18 August 2021 representatives of all the institutions involved, gathered at Assuta for the ‘graduation’ ceremony of the Palestinian team. It was an emotional and enormously gratifying moment for all involved.

Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana International,

“For Project Rozana it was reinforcement of our mission. It involves the identification of a key gap in Palestinian health capacity. And the funding of a cross-border peer-to-peer training program that has delivered a ‘hand-up’ to the Palestinian health network.

The program has encouraged Palestinian health professionals to treat renal failure patients with an identified modality of treatment, previously only available outside Palestine.

This type of empowerment and self-sufficiency for the Palestinian health system is what Project Rozana is always striving to achieve.”

Scholarships for Palestinian nutrition students

Project Rozana saw value in funding 21 East Jerusalem students in post-graduate studies in nutrition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The students had recently completed a degree course at Bir Zeit, Hebron and Al-Quds universities.

Encouraging pathways to better health outcomes is core to Project Rozana. We supported an initiative of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem(HU) where the students were given the option of undertaking four courses at the University this year. 

The courses open opportunities for future work within the Israeli health system. And open key pathways for professional development for the broader benefit of the Palestinian community in Jerusalem and beyond.

Once completed, students will be able to undertake the practical training component of the course, followed by the government exam in nutrition.

The completion of the four academic courses, the examinations and the practical training inside Israeli hospitals, will enable the students to work in Israel as qualified nutritionists. Plus provide them with a working knowledge of Hebrew to enable them to integrate into the Israeli hospital system at large.

Should they work in the Palestinian health system, their expertise will go a long way to strengthening the health system and provide much-needed nutrition-related services to Palestinians.

The benefits of this program are wide-ranging,

  • The Palestinian students will integrate into the Israeli hospital system, creating opportunities for interaction between them and Israeli health practitioners, and patients. This in turn will lead to greater understanding and mutual respect between Israelis and Palestinians in the wider community.
  • Should the East Jerusalem students decide to work within the Palestinian health system, they will have enhanced knowledge, skills and experience, as a result of the coursework undertaken at HU. This will serve to strengthen the Palestinian health system, and provide better healthcare to Palestinians. There is much to be done in the field of nutrition in Palestine. Poor nutrition impacts maternal and child health, escalates the incidence of Type-2 diabetes, and increases other non-communicable diseases.
  • These students can join our growing Project Rozana network of health practitioners, and potentially join the women’s primary healthcare initiative in the West Bank. They can develop knowledge on nutrition for Community Health Mobilizers who will then transfer that to the women in their communities.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

ICU nurses training - Gaza

In late December 2020, Project Rozana received an urgent request from the Ministry of Health in Gaza to facilitate training of ICU medical personnel in COVID-related fields.

Ruth Rosen, Executive Director of Project Rozana said,

“As soon as we were ‘off the phone’ we knew who to call. Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem had the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 ICU patients in the country, so it had ‘runs on the board’.

“And it was home to two inspirational nurses who head an international NGO, Nurses in the Middle East.”

The Palestinian health system’s capacity to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic was severely affected by longstanding health system challenges and critical shortages in infrastructure and human resources. Also, the pandemic posed a huge challenge for healthcare providers who needed additional knowledge and skills to respond effectively.

The aim of the project is to enhance the knowledge, skills, and best practices of Gazan healthcare professionals responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Project Rozana brought to the table,

  • Senior ICU nurses from Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) and founders of local NGO Nurses in the Middle East, Naela Hayek and Julie Benbenishty PhD (pictured above).
  • And chief nurse, Mohammed Alhaj, from the largest COVID hospital in Gaza, the European Gaza Hospital (EGH).

In early 2021 they identified the needs and gaps in training and capacity for the COVID-19 crisis. Mohammad was joined by about 20 nurses from EGH while Naela and Julie were joined by other senior medical personnel from HMO.

Initial online training was undertaken for senior nurses, experienced with ICU and COVID-19 using the ‘train the trainer’ method. The program will continue through the trickle-down effect for nurses throughout the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

 Training modules covered are,

  • Nurses protection from COVID-19 in the ICU.
  • Types of oxygen therapy uses in ICU.
  • Advanced modes of ventilation.
  • Nitrus oxide and ECMO for COVID-19 management.
  • Patient monitoring (hemodynamic and respiratory) in the ICU.
  • Case studies.

Binational School of Psychotherapy's time to shine

Funding from the ‘European Union Partnership for Peace’ program could not have come at a more critical time for Israeli and Palestinian children. Many are grappling with mental health issues caused by COVID-19 and ongoing challenges of living in a regional conflict zone. 

The €750,000 grant announced in July 2020 was directed to the Jerusalem-based Binational School of Psychotherapy (BSPT). This is the leading agency in the Middle East tasked with training Israeli and Palestinian child psychologists.

The BSPT is a Project Rozana initiative.

The funding has allowed 32 child psychologists (16 from the West Bank and Gaza and 16 from Israel) to enhance their skills, with an unprecedented number of children presenting with PTSD.

The training was conducted via telehealth because of the restrictions on face-to-face learning. It is providing the psychologists with the tools to deal with this global health disaster. They have just completed their first year.

Project Rozana was largely responsible for the establishment of the BSPT in 2016 by encouraging project partner, World Vision Australia to fund the pilot program. The BSPT is one of the most effective programs in the Middle East to meet the urgent need to upskill mental health professionals in child and adolescent trauma treatment.

For the current program, Project Rozana brought together project partners Hadassah Medical Organization and Hebron-based Green Land Society for Health Development. They co-implemented a 42-month project under the framework of the EU-funded action,

“Improvement of mental health care and treatment for conflict-affected children and adolescents in East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza and Israel”.

The program involves training and preparing 60 Israeli and Palestinian post-graduate psychotherapists in the latest theories and research in youth trauma treatment, in a lecture series of more than 100 sessions.

It operates under the direction of…

  • Prof Esti Galili-Weisstub, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hadassah, a world-renowned expert in the treatment of conflict related trauma (pictured left above).
  • Shafiq Masalha, clinical psychotherapist, senior academic lecturer at Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and President of ERICE (Empowerment and Resilience In Children Everywhere), alongside academic and steering committees (pictured right above).

The project recruited a group of 29 mental health professionals from Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, following a rigorous screening process.

The new training program started in October 2020 and is being monitored and assessed by an external team alongside Project Rozana Israel.

The primary project outcome is the continued expansion of technical capacities (mostly therapeutic and clinical) of Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals in a cross-cultural context.

Project Rozana Israel expands

The growing success of Project Rozana internationally has opened up opportunities for new faces in the organisation. 

Project Rozana Israel is riding a wave of popularity, attracting an impressive and diverse range of professionals of all ages, both male and female.

They include secular Israelis and those who identify with various faiths including Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze – immigrants as well as Israeli-born.

Among them are doctors, lawyers, psychologists, financial experts, directors and administrators of large health centres, senior business managers, former IDF personnel, musicians and educators and former politicians and diplomats.

We want to acknowledge the outstanding work of Executive Director Ronit Zimmer who was the first to establish the Israeli affiliate.  Ronit is working with members to set up working committees.

A full-day introductory meeting of the expanded Board and general members took place on 30 July.  It covered an outstanding program leading to reinforcing the Mission and looking to fresh ideas for building bridges into the future.

Recorded messages of welcome and support were received from Dr. Riad Al-Malki – Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Nitzan Horowitz – Israeli Minister of Health, and from Ron Finkel AM – Chair, Project Rozana International.

Among the topics covered during the morning session:

  • Health as Physical, Social and Mental Wellbeing
  • Can Health Serve as a Basis for Building Bridges of Trust?       
  • Engagement and Giving – Moral versus Ideological Impetus

Participants were treated to a beautiful musical interlude during lunch with member Dr. Nizar Radwan – Violinist and Conductor of the Nazareth Orchestra and Doctor of Mathematics at the Technion, Haifa. Dr Radwan performed well-known eastern melodies.

In the afternoon an intriguing session was led by Regional Director Dr Raid Mansour on Cultivating Relations with the Authorities.

Current and projects in planning – Wheels of Hope, Binational School of Psychotherapy, the Women’s Primary Healthcare Initiative and the Nurses’ Mission – were discussed in afternoon sessions. This was followed by the working committees: Management, Fundraising, Strategy, Medical, Peacebuilding, Coordination, Legal and Public Relations.

Ron Finkel's welcome message

In 2010 Palestinian activist, Omar Barghouti, launched a new campaign – anti-normalisation with Israel. His objective – to agitate and prevent interaction between Israelis and Palestinians across all sectors. Over a matter of years Barghouti achieved a lot. Cross border economic, educational, social,cultural and sporting activity plunged. Fewer and fewer interactions meant fewer and fewer people on both sides had opportunities to get to know the “other”. Increasing numbers of Israelis grew into adulthood without ever having had an opportunity to meet their Palestinian counterparts in a normal context. Likewise for the Palestinians. For them the situation was aggravated. Their interactions with Israeli were largely confined to checkpoints.

One sector stood out as a beacon of light – the health sector. The one space where every minute of every day Israelis and Palestinians met in a mutually respectful way. As professionals working together to deliver first class healthcare in Israeli hospitals and as patients sharing wards in those same Israeli hospitals. It was in this environment that the idea of Project Rozana was born. Our Mission is simple – to build better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health. We address everyday existential needs through our Wheels of Hope program and invest strategically with our Palestinian partners in projects aimed to build capacity, so that Palestinian patients should expect to receive the same level of care in Palestinian hospitals that they currently receive in the Israeli hospitals. Moving from dependence to independence. All the time doing this in a way that builds trust and confidence. This is just so vital at a time when 90% of Palestinians don’t trust Israelis and 80% of Israelis don’t trust Palestinians.

It is a source of enormous regret to me that I cannot be with you today to share in this historic experience. The first formal in-person gathering of the new, expanded Committee of Project Rozana Israel. But the spirit of your gathering is with me, and I believe we are all moving in a very positive direction. Our steps may be small but we are gathering momentum. I see it everywhere. We are in the right place at the right time and we have, together, the opportunity to make a serious, positive contribution to better outcomes in the region.

On behalf of all my colleagues on the Board of Project Rozana International I send our best wishes to you for a day of fruitful discussion and deliberation that should form the foundation of really meaningful success in the years to come. We are a small but growing global movement. We are truly honoured to be sharing this journey with you.

New projects

Project Rozana is facilitating new initiatives,

  • Women’s Primary Healthcare Initiative
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support Training
  • Online Courses by Assuta Ashdod Hospital
Women's primary healthcare initiative

The major training and treatment program for Project Rozana starting this year is aimed at Palestinian women and girls living in the West Bank. They are vastly under-served in essential medical services and sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH).

This is desperately needed as inadequate infrastructure, transportation complexities, financial barriers and cultural expectations have created obstacles to accessible healthcare. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced a scaling-down of SRH by the major healthcare providers in the region, further exacerbating healthcare disparities.

We know that around 99% of our target community have smartphones. The phones’ capability of data collection, analysis, display, and transmission, offer dual functionality as diagnostic point-of-care devices and an electronic medical records system.

They are key to creating virtual clinics for Palestinian women and girls in remote communities. These have proven effective in other indigenous and remote communities throughout the world.

These virtual clinics will offer a first port of call for primary care. And facilitate secondary care by connecting with Palestinian and Israeli health institutions, including NGO-run mobile clinics, to ensure seamless delivery of health services.

The objective of the program is to support cooperative regional efforts to improve women’s health delivery. This is through unique and sustainable cross-border education that can strengthen the Palestinian healthcare system and contribute to conditions for peace.

The initial process will be as follows:

  • Engage with five local women’s organizations in five West Bank governorates that will establish health mobilizer teams, consisting of 100 community health mobilizers (CHM) over three years. They will provide a portfolio of essential women’s health services via virtual health spaces, and evidence-based education to targeted communities.
  • Provide human and virtual infrastructure support to the CHMs to enable them to deliver essential health services for women and girls. This includes access to SRH, antenatal, perinatal, and post-partum care, and health system navigation.
  • Connect health mobilizer teams with existing mobile units and institutional providers to develop community health ecosystems and support coordinated care.
  • Create a sustainable model by engaging the Palestinian Ministry of Health in year 2 and gradually transitioning the management and expenditures of the virtual clinics exclusively to them by year 5.

What are the program deliverables?

  1. 100 community mobilizers trained and employed to support women’s health programs.
  2. Cross-border links between Palestinian communities and Israeli healthcare institutions for local healthcare capacity building in women’s health.
  3. Long-term and sustainable access to health care for women and girls.
Advanced trauma life support training

Traumatic injury contributes significantly to the global burden of disease, affecting all members of society regardless of social economic class or ethnicity. Emergency room physicians and trauma surgeons are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and providing life-saving care for these patients.

What is unique to trauma surgery, compared to other surgical services, is that it is not only technology that makes a significant difference to the patient’s outcome and survival. It is the ‘trauma system’ itself, be it organization, team-work, training.

The ATLS course, an internationally recognized training course adopted by over 80 countries, provides an essential foundation for trauma care. Not only is it proven to increase survival of trauma victims, it is also a required medical qualification that is a prerequisite for most international fellowship/residency programs and jobs.

Within a small geographical region, Israel and Palestine reflect the global disparities in trauma and acute surgical care. Improving care for trauma patients, by optimising and standardising the ‘trauma system’ across political boundaries, will benefit both populations, while providing a platform for cooperation now and into the future.

This program will provide an official ATLS course for 20 Palestinian and Israeli surgeons/surgeons-in-training that will provide a platform,

  1. To establish professional and personal relationships.
  2. For future educational courses in the field of trauma – ultrasound courses, advanced procedures, research.

Project Rozana USA is working with Rotary USA to support a pilot program that can be replicated.

Online courses developed and delivered by Assuta Ashdod Hospital

The program aims to develop a dedicated curriculum for online short courses in the cardiothoracic, oncological, and renal fields. These to be delivered monthly by Assuta Ashdod Hospital health practitioners to their counterparts at the European Gaza Hospital via telehealth channels.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the main cause of death and disability worldwide. Effective management of these chronic conditions depends largely on continuous, responsive, accessible, quality services and successful patient engagement and self-management.

The NCDs most prevalent in Gaza are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Over the last decade, a lack of diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies, as well as referral restrictions have fundamentally interrupted the treatment of chronic diseases. Additionally, there few qualified medical professionals in these specialist fields.

This training program aims to strengthen and build the resilience of the Gazan health system by facilitating training opportunities for health workers in critical gaps in NCD fields, by leveraging telehealth technologies.

COVID-19 has increased the risk of living with NCDs, diverted resources and created fear among patients about receiving care in medical institutions. Digital health, and in particular telemedicine visits, electronic records and electronic prescriptions, have been successful in,

  • Facilitating better symptom assessment.
  • Self-management and reduction of symptom distress.
  • Awareness of health conditions.
  • Patient–provider communication.
  • Timely care-seeking, follow-up and referral, treatment adherence.
  • And improved quality of living among the patients living with NCDs.

The program aims to:

  • Leverage telehealth technologies to address critical gaps in secondary health services and help build local medical capacity and resilience in Gaza.
  • Provide access to treatment to prevent, manage and control NCDs with the aim of improving health and reducing the costs of direct care.
  • Strengthen and build the resilience of the Gazan health system by facilitating training opportunities for health workers.
  • Contribute to the conditions for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Project Rozana is committed to:

  • Establishing clinics at Assuta Ashdod and the European Gaza Hospital. There Assuta Ashdod physicians will provide Gazan patients with preventive and curative medical services in the cardiothoracic, oncology, and renal fields. This will be done through a dedicated telehealth platform, navigated by a local health practitioner.
  • Providing tertiary treatment and additional services for patients given Assuta Ashdod’s proximity to Gaza.
  • Leveraging the telehealth platform for specialist training to local health workers in these fields, which will serve to strengthen the Palestinian health system.

Project review committee

Earlier this year, the Project Rozana established a Project Review Committee. Its role is to create a robust process for prioritising partnerships and projects to be funded in Israel and Palestine. The committee will present its recommendations to the International Board for approval.

Committee co-chairs, Ruth Rosen (left), Executive Director Project Rozana International, and Ronit Zimmer (right), Executive Director Project Rozana Israel, said that an application must fit within the organization’s guidelines.

They explained how any proposed project should match Project Rozana’s Mission to build bridges to better understanding between Palestinians and Israelis through health. 

“The application needs to explain the scope of the project and why it is relevant, why the intervention is an effective way to address the problem, the activities, outcomes, monitoring and evaluating and the funding required.”

Ronit Zimmer together with Program Manager Diana Shehade and Regional Director Dr Raid Mansour, will meet with applicants, review their proposal, provide paperwork and set out a matrix for the Project Review Committee with their recommendation to the Committee.

Ms Rosen said,

“It has been agreed that small projects will be approved for implementation once the Committee members have had the opportunity to present for discussion new proposals to their own boards.”

The Project Review Committee members (pictured below in order left to right), are,

  • Lee Ann Basser – Australia
  • Rev Canon Laurette Glasgow – Canada
  • Dr Janan Faraj Falah – Israel
  • Suzanne Jacobs – UK
  • Steve Lax – USA

Goodwill and intentions: lessons from Ireland

The International Fund for Ireland is credited with bringing peace to Northern Ireland. It has lessons that Israelis and Palestinians would do well to study.

The following article was written by Rev Tim Costello AO, (left) a Goodwill Ambassador for Project Rozana International, and Ron Finkel AM (right), Chair of Project Rozana International. It was recently published in the online public policy journal Pearls and Irritations.

Alf McCreary is an Irish author. In A Fund of Goodwill, McCreary tells the story of the success of the International Fund for Ireland. Established in 1986 its mission was to invest in projects that brought Irish Protestants and Catholics together.

Speaking about the Fund, McCreary (pictured above) said,

“The International Fund’s story is one of co-operation on many levels, not only politically and economically, but also across the divides within communities and across the border. It is a complex story but also an inspiring story of how so many people committed themselves to doing their best in the worst of times.”

The Fund, which pre-dated the Good Friday Agreements by a dozen years, is widely regarded to have gone a considerable way to building significant trust and better understanding between two communities seemingly destined to the continuation of centuries long inter-communal conflict.

How pleasing then to see that the US Congress passed legislation in December 2020 to support a latter-day version of the same idea. This time applying the strategy to the seemingly intractable challenge of the seventy plus years conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The bi-partisan (a not so often heard word these days) Middle East Partnership for Peace Act commits the USA to deploying US$250 million over five years into cross border economic and people-to-people projects designed to address the ‘trust deficit’ that exists between Israelis and Palestinians. The US is inviting other countries to join them in this endeavour. This in the same way as the Irish Fund drew on several countries, including Australia.

This is the space in which Project Rozana is active. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is the right space for all of us who believe that there are identified pathways to reduce the 90% lack of trust that is felt by Palestinians towards Israelis and the 79% of mistrust that is reciprocated by Israelis towards their Palestinian neighbours.

Project Rozana has identified health as the sector most likely to have an immediate positive impact. It is the one space where, every minute of every day, Israelis and Palestinians meet in an atmosphere of mutual respect, whether as professional colleagues or as patients.

This is the space where we have been successfully working in for over eight years. Having launched in Melbourne in May 2013, Project Rozana has built a respected and impactful global footprint.

Our partners on the ground deliver ‘Wheels of Hope’. This is our initiative which sees 2000+ Palestinian and Israeli volunteers provide, between them, daily, free transportation, for critically ill Palestinian children and their carers. This is from their homes in the West Bank or the Gaza checkpoints to hospitals in Israel. The hospital care, the cost of which is covered by the PA on the same terms as that provided to Israeli patients by their health insurance funds, meets an existential need. For the moment the equivalent care is simply not available in Palestine.

But we are working to change that as well. And we are doing it with the full support of both governments and the Palestinian and Israeli health network. It is a privilege we don’t take lightly. It is one that we understand needs positive engagement. But it is one that we know, from years of constructive activity in the region, is making a difference.

We are not naive to the bigger and seemingly intractable political realities. But Project Rozana has a singular agenda – to build bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health. Our Mission has the support of governments, Australia’s included, and, most importantly, of people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths. We believe that, like the Irish experience, there is a pathway to a better future built on a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect.

We are optimistic that Australians, no matter their political persuasion or ethnicity, will join us.

01 August 2021
Category: Newsletters