PRO TERRA SANCTA COVID-19 TASKFORCE
The Covid-19 pandemic is currently also affecting the Middle East, and the medical assistance interventions of Association pro Terra Sancta already underway in Bethlehem, in Jerusalem and in Saint Paul Region (Syria and Lebanon) have become priorities for dealing with this emergency.
BETHLEHEM & JERUSALEM
In the Palestinian Territories, in particular in Bethlehem, Association pro Terra Sancta for years has intervened in the health sector in support of the most fragile elements of the population, contributing a portion of the expense for medicines and medical procedures that are not covered by public assistance, and also at times for services and treatments that are not available in the region.
The public health system in the Palestinian Territories has always been very deficient and presents many problems, notably in terms of the limited number and range of health care services provided. For this reason, today with the Coronavirus emergency that since the beginning of March has also affected Bethlehem, the health situation in the area is what worries us the most. There is a high risk that the Territories will lack the resources required to cope with an emergency of the scale of the Italian or Chinese one.
There is also considerable reason to be concerned for the elderly, the group most affected by the virus, and for high-risk individuals who suffer from diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. It is for this reason that we are trying to increase our support for the elderly in difficulty in collaboration with local charities – like the Antonian Society – by covering medical expenses and distributing masks which have become almost impossible to find.
In Jerusalem, as Association pro Terra Sancta we answered the request for help from St. Joseph and St. Louis hospitals which are unable to cope with the emergency situation caused by the spread of Covid-19. These two hospitals have been managed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition and they work to support the local Arab community.
SAINT PAUL REGION: LEBANON & SYRIA
In Lebanon, a country already overwhelmed by financial default and popular protests, the firs cases of Covid-19 were reported and restrictive measures have been imposed to avoid contagion. Here, Association pro Terra Sancta is assisting centers for disabled young people and elderly who remain the weakest subjects in this health crisis.
In Syria, the internal situation is even more dramatic due to the conflict in which the country has been submerged for more than nine years. There are 11.7 million people officially in need of humanitarian aid, nearly half of whom are children. Amidst this grave economic situation, the Syrian health system has for years been at risk of collapse.
As a result of the fighting there has been a progressive shortage of medicines and medical equipment. The war has led to the closure of a large number of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, notably in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus and there is is now an extreme shortage of qualified and skilled medical personnel, and the prices of medicines in pharmacies continues to rise making them increasing inaccessible to the general population.
4 emergency centres
Since 2012 Association pro Terra Sancta, through the four emergency centres it opened in Aleppo, Damascus, Knaye and Latakia, has been distributing medicines and vouchers to cover medical expenses for doctor’s appointments and specific interventions to around 1,500 people every month. Following the first Covid cases in Syria and the restrictive anti-contagion measures, the Association has undertaken to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) along with medicines.
Association pro Terra Sancta is committed to supporting a small clinic in East Aleppo, today the most run-down area of the city where the population is extremely poor. The clinic is the only health service to which hundreds of children who were orphaned or born of violence during the control of jihadist militias and who are still not officially registered have access.
In the Jaramana district, we are supporting the medical practice of Dr. Suleiman where 2,000 patients are offered free check-ups each year, and those most in need are supported with a contribution to cover the cost of specialist examinations and expensive and difficult-to-find medicines.
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