Statement of the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group following cut funding decided by the US Government

Jerusalem, 10. September 2018

St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group (SJEHG) regret the decision taken by the US Government to cut funding for six East Jerusalem Hospitals this week. The current administration has been making a wide range of cuts to Palestinian funding, amounting to a total of $330 million USD, which has affected several funding streams to SJEHG.

The most recent cut affects medical insurance payments paid by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and amounts to $20 million USD transferred by the US Government through USAID to hospitals in East Jerusalem. Currently the debt owed to SJEHG from the PA amounts £2.3 million GBP. These medical insurance payments cover residents in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

It was hoped that the US administration would not take the decision to cut this vital funding. In March 2018, the US Congress passed the Taylor Force Act to strengthen restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority in annual appropriations. A specific exemption was made to protect funding to the six East Jerusalem Hospitals thanks to US lobby groups and the international recognition of the hospitals’ fundamental service and reputation in the region.

In response to the cuts, Joint CEOs of SJEHG, Dr Ahmad Ma’ali and Mr Peter Khoury release the following statement:

“This funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital network is essential to ensure the populations of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are not left without access to the specialised, life-saving services which only these hospitals are able to provide them.

It is vital to note that this particular funding stream makes up a large majority of SJEHG’s patient income. If the suspension continues we will need to rely more heavily on our voluntary income from other funding streams.

We urge our US supporters to request that their Congress and Government reconsider this decision, in light of the previous exemptions made and the basic humanitarian need for these services. We also urge the wider St John family and the international community to join with us in calling for this shortfall to be met wherever it can be.

SJEHG have weathered through many storms in our 136-year history thanks to the support of our wider St John family and the international community. We now ask you to help us once more to continue our vital mission.”

SJEHG is the only provider of charitable expert eye care in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, treating patients regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. Established in Jerusalem in 1882, the flagship hospital is now an ISO and JCI accredited specialist eye hospital and research facility. SJEHG satellite centres take expert eye care to the Old City of Jerusalem, Gaza, Hebron and Anabta and Mobile Outreach Programmes provide vital services to those unable to travel easily in isolated regions of the West Bank and Gaza.

SJEHG is a foundation member of the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, a British Royal Order of Chivalry, Christian confraternity, and Charity with a history dating back to 1088.

Picture by SJEHG