First Retinal Research Laboratory Opened in Palestine

Jerusalem, 20. March 2018

Lead researcher Dr. Al Talbishi will manage the new lab to provide better eye treatment for Palestinians. ©JUH/Lackovich

St John Eye Hospital, the leading centre for eye care in Palestine, officially opened the first retinal research laboratory on 19 March. The laboratory allows to process patient data more efficiently as it will now be located where the patients are being screened. “Whilst I have been able to rely on another facility until now, it is exciting to have our own lab which enables us to more conveniently work with our target population”, said Dr. Al Talbishi, who is leading the research team.

The new laboratory is part of a three-year project entitled ‘Peace for Sight’, sponsored by the “EU Peacebuilding Initiative” in partnership with Johanniter and Hadassah Medical Center. It aims to provide better diagnosis and treatment of inherited retinal disease across Palestine. Furthermore, it will foster cooperation across the medical communities in Israel and Palestine to tackle preventable blindness in the region.

Proper Care for Patients with Eye Diseases

Our overall goal is to contribute to long-lasting peace between Israel and Palestine”, emphasizes Dirk Lackovich-Van Gorp, Director of Johanniter Programs in Middle East, who joined the ceremony at the hospital together with Mr.Tomas Niklasson, Deputy Head of EU-Delegation. “An appropriate way to achieve this objective is addressing an unmet need like the new Genetic Disease Center, which benefits underprivileged population, operated by Israelis and Palestinians experts.”

Currently, only a few patients in Palestine with eye diseases are characterized in terms of phenotype and genotype, severely limiting the possibility of providing proper care. Throughout trainings for clinic staff, St. John hospital was able to diagnose dozens of persons in a first step during the past months by a combination of clinical examinations and assessments. To determine the type and severity of disease in each patient, retinal function now can be evaluated using different and modern tests in the laboratory.

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