All pictures by St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group
For the last year, our JOIN members Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe Germany and St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group (SJEHG) have been discussing with the Israeli Hadassah Medical Center (HMC) ways of cooperation that will promote peace and encourages constructive relationships between Israelis and Palestinians for development purposes. After studying the different needs in the medical area, they innovatively decided to establish the first genetic research unit in Palestine at St John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem. The aim of this unit will be to tackle hereditary eye diseases within the most underprivileged Palestinian communities. Thanks to the ‘EU Partnership for Peace Programme’, the three organizations won a three-year grant to implement such a project.
Called ‘Peace for sight’, the project has just started from February 2016 onwards. In brief practical terms, the plan is to train an ophthalmologist from SJEHG at HMC in both clinical evaluation of patients with hereditary retinal diseases and in molecular genetics. The ultimate long term goal is that the ophthalmologist will lead and further develop diagnosis and treatment of such patients in the Palestinian territories and continue to improving SJEHG capacity by training others after the end of the action. Meanwhile, a dedicated genetic laboratory will be established and equipped at SJEHG with close assistance of HMC by the end of 2017. The laboratory is expected to become operational in terms of DNA extraction and basic genetic screening that will be performed and supervised by the candidate.
Finally and most importantly, the final beneficiaries will be Palestinian patients with hereditary macular diseases. All the efforts put in ‘Peace for Sight’ aim at providing sustainable treatment and medical solutions for those people who have had no other option in the past. The project will significantly contribute to a long term impact by stopping the inherited disease from developing in the next generation through identifying and treating the genes responsible for hereditary molecular diseases in the Palestinian population. ‘Peace for Sight’ will be sustainable beyond the project period, and it will have a life-long impact on the final beneficiaries, their families and the community.
The regional office of Johanniter Germany in Amman (Jordan) is directly supervising the overall project, ensuring that the achievement of results is meeting the requirements of the EU.
If you would like to know more about the ‘Peace for Sight’ project, please do get in touch with David Dahdal, Head of Development & Grants at SJEHG.