Jerusalem: US President Biden visits Augusta Victoria Hospital

US President Joe Biden delivers his address during his visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital today. Photo: AVH/Arine Rinawi
US President Joe Biden delivers his address during his visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital today. Photo: AVH/Arine Rinawi

100 million USD in aid to East Jerusalem Hospital Network

(LWI) – The United States President Joe Biden visited the LWF-operated Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) this Friday morning. The visit was part of a two-day presidential visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Biden’s visit to the hospital is the first visit of a sitting US president to the Eastern part of the city.

Crucial role in Palestinian health care system

The US President on this occasion announced a USD 100 million multi-year commitment toward the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN), of which AVH is a member. He also welcomed a USD 25 million contribution from the United Arab Emirates and encouraged other nations around the region and the world to step up their contribution in support of “the vital work that is being done here."

“I’m honored to be able to see first-hand the service and quality of care you provide the Palestinian people,” Biden said. “These hospitals are the backbone of the Palestinian health care system.”

I’m honored to be able to see first-hand the service and quality of care you provide the Palestinian people. These hospitals are the backbone of the Palestinian health care system.
US President Joe Biden

Dr Fadi Atrash, CEO of the Augusta Victoria Hospital, in his address to the President called the visit a “courageous statement of support for the Palestinians and a genuine call for peace in the Holy Land”. He mentioned the crucial role of the hospital in the Palestinian health care system, affirming the commitment of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF): “We are willing to continue playing this role to make the lives of our people healthier and for health care to be accessible.”

 AVH/ Arine Rinawi

US President Joe Biden and Dr Fadi Atrash, the CEO of the LWF-operated Augusta Victoria Hospital. Photo: AVH/ Arine Rinawi

Atrash also remembered the ongoing commitment of the Biden family to the hospital. First Lady Jill Biden had visited AVH in March 2010, and made a donation to the oncology ward.

The President in his address emphasized the United States will continue to work with Palestinian leaders, the Israeli government and international partners to ensure that the EJHN remains “sustainable, available, and is able to provide the high-quality care” that Palestinians deserve.

Palestinians and Israelis, he noted, “deserve equal measure of freedom, security, prosperity and dignity, and access to health care when you need it, is essential to living a life of dignity for all of us.”

Ongoing commitment

The visit was attended by the LWF Country Representative in Jerusalem, Ms Sieglinde Weinbrenner, as well as medical staff from AVH and the other hospitals of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Bishop Sani-Ibrahim Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) on this occasion gave the President a letter, alerting him to the situation of Christians in the Holy Land, and asking for support in the reunification of Christian Palestinian families.

Operated by LWF for more than 70 years, AVH is a center of medical excellence in East Jerusalem. It serves all 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Its specialized services include comprehensive cancer and diabetes care, kidney care and dialysis, skilled nursing and long-term care. In 2021, more than 12,400 patients received life-saving treatment.

AVH is the first and only hospital to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories and is the only medical facility in the West Bank offering pediatric kidney dialysis. The hospital is part of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, a group of six specialized health care facilities, which form the backbone of the Palestinian health care system.

“We very much appreciate the US President’s visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital”, said LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt. “This hospital plays a crucial role in the Palestinian health care system. We welcome the opportunity to show the excellent work being done there, which is also possible thanks to the long-standing commitment of the United States government, and our member church in the United States, the ELCA.”

 AVH/Arine Rinawi

AVH senior management and ground management staff including: Dr Hani Abdeen, Badiah Bajali, Dr Yousef Hamamreh, Alex Kuttab, AVH CEO Dr Fadi Atrash, ELCJHL Bishop Sani-Ibrahim Azar and LWF Country Representative in Jerusalem Sieglinde Weinbrenner. Photo: AVH/Arine Rinawi

By LWF/C. Kästner & LWF/P. Mumia

 

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Augusta Victoria Hospital is a center of medical excellence in East Jerusalem, serving all 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Its specialized services include comprehensive cancer and diabetes care, kidney care and dialysis, skilled nursing and long-term care. Augusta Victoria Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission International for its outstanding quality.