On April 13, 2017, Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital organized a ceremony to celebrate “1,000 open heart pediatric surgeries performed by Palestinians”. The ceremony, which took place at the Red Crescent Theater in Al Bireh, was conducted under the auspices of Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah, with the support of Bank of Palestine and in partnership with Ajyal radio network.
The ceremony, which carried the slogan “Your support protects the pulse of their hearts”, was attended by the Minister of Health Dr. Jawad Awwad, representing Prime Minister Hamdallah, the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Governor of Jerusalem Mr. Adnan Husseini, the Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Saidam, Dr. Nabil Shaath, Advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas for International Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, and the Governor of the cities of Ramallah and Al Bireh Dr. Laila Ghannam, in addition to a number of officials, dignitaries, highly regarded personalities, representatives of civil society organizations and the private sector, as well as several heart patients who received treatment at Makassed and their families, and a number of Makassed medical staff and employees.
In his speech, Dr. Jawad Awwad stressed that the Ministry of Health is working under the directives of the political leadership, represented by President Abbas and Prime Minister Hamdallah, which emphasize and affirm extending support to Jerusalem’s health institutions in order to preserve their Arab and Palestinian character. “We congratulate ourselves because we no longer refer our children to non-Palestinian hospitals so as to carry out these types of surgeries,” he stated and went on to point out that the ministry’s strategy is mainly to pump health, medical and technical staff, and efficient management, keeping in mind its aim to nationalize the health service, and stressing that Jerusalem’s hospitals are part of the network of government hospitals.
During the ceremony, Dr. Tufaida Al Jarbawi, Director General of the Welfare Association, announced a donation of $500,000 to the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Department, in addition to a donation of $180,000 for the expansion of Makassed’s Emergency Department.
In his opening speech, the Chairman of the Makassed Society Administrative Board Dr. Arafat Hidmi welcomed the guests and thanked them for attending the ceremony to mark the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Department’s great achievement of performing 1,000 open heart surgeries during the last four years carried out solely by Palestinian medical staff. He then went on to recount a brief history of the inception of Makassed 49 years ago.
In turn, Makassed CEO Dr. Rafiq Husseini gave a detailed presentation on Makassed’s achievements in recent years. He spoke of the distinguished role played by Makassed Hospital since its establishment on the medical, educational, humanitarian and national levels, and during all the seminal and historical events witnessed by the Palestinian people. He also reviewed Makassed’s most important departments which are functioning with high efficiency cadres.
For his part, Dr. Nizar Hijjeh, specialist and head of the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Department, provided detailed information about the past, present and future of the Palestinian Centre for Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, adding that the number of surgeries doubled from 180 in 2013 to 300 this year, while the number of diagnostic and therapeutic catheterizations increased to 500.
He stated that an estimated 600 to 650 infants are born annually with congenital heart disease, of which 500 cases require immediate surgical intervention during the first period of the child’s life. Therefore, the Palestinian Centre for Pediatric Cardiac Surgery seeks to provide all the capabilities needed to be able to perform interventions on 450 – 500 cases annually, thus putting an end to any referrals to hospitals in Israel and abroad by 2018.
Dr. Hijjeh added that one of the many goals Makassed aims to achieve is the establishment of a 6-bed intermediate care unit, as well as performing a transcatheter pulmonary valve implantation surgery by the end of 2017, and to complete the dispatch of medical personnel to all parts of the world for the purpose of training.
In his speech, Mr. Hashim Al Shawa, Chairman and General Manager of Bank of Palestine, the exclusive sponsor of the celebration, emphasized the role of Makassed Hospital and its efforts in treating thousands of Palestinian patients from all over Palestine, including the Gaza Strip, and stressed that extending support to Makassed constitutes a long-term investment in the future of the Palestinian human being. He pointed out that Bank of Palestine has supported and stood by the Hospital through many initiatives and activities, especially the campaign launched by the Bank in 2014 during the war on the Gaza Strip, in addition to providing mobile homes for those accompanying patients who live outside Jerusalem.
During the ceremony, a film directed by Murad Nassar and recounting a number of success stories witnessed at Makassed’s Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Department was screened.
The ceremony, which was emceed by media personality Mohammed Rajoub of Ajyal radio network, included a number of musical, artistic, song and Dabkeh performances presented by the Mazaj group from the Edward Said Institute, the Ghorba Laji’ group, and artists Yumna Abu Hilal and Mona Miari.
At the end of the ceremony, the administrations of Makassed Society and Hospital honored a number of donors, supporters and personalities who played an active role in the development of Makassed Hospital in recent years. These included Dr. Jawad Awwad, Minister of Health, Mr. Adnan Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Governor of Jerusalem, Mr. Mohammed Shtayyeh, Minister in charge of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, Dr. Laila Ghannam, Governor of Ramallah and Al Bireh, Mr. Mohammed Mustafa, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Palestine Investment Fund, Dr. Tufaida Al Jarbawi, Director General of the Welfare Association, Mr. Hashim Al Shawa, Chairman and General Manager of Bank of Palestine, Mr. Samer Said Khoury, CEO of Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Mr. Abbad Isbitan of the Society for the Protection of Jerusalem. Mr. Badr Kaloti, the Islamic Development Bank – Jeddah, and the Qatari Red Crescent were also honored. Makassed plans to honor another group of dignitaries and supporting institutions in the Jordanian capital of Amman later this month.