Photo-Credit: Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation
This article was originally published on www.orderofmalta.int.
With over 4,700 births a year and a neonatal intensive care unit, Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem remains a fundamental point of reference for families in the West Bank. With its healthcare covering a woman’s life from pregnancy to menopause, the Order of Malta’s hospital has intensified its programmes for assisting and supporting pregnant women, starting from the very early days of the pregnancy.
Take the case of Rima, a young woman living in a Bedouin village near Bethlehem. Every week, the hospital’s mobile clinic visits Rima to give her all the antenatal check-ups, including scans and diagnostic tests. The doctor, besides monitoring the mother and baby’s health, also advises Rima about her diet, tells her how to recognise the first signs of labour and how to cope with the birth and postnatal care. A holistic approach, in which women living in remote areas are informed about all the maternity stages.
Holy Family Hospital organizes antenatal courses for future parents who, besides receiving important information on the birth and care of the new baby, can share concerns and questions with other couples. The antenatal assistance percentage at the hospital is between 50% and 60%, double that of other facilities in the region. For this reason, Holy Family Hospital has launched an awareness campaign for the entire region on the importance of antenatal care. The hospital, that has a staff of 140, has also started to cooperate with the main local telephone company to send messages to hundreds of women throughout the region to raise awareness of antenatal care during all the pregnancy trimesters.
Besides their radio spots and leaflets on the benefits of regular antenatal check-ups, doctors and nurses organise workshops in women’s organizations, religious communities and local refugee camps. “We will double our efforts to reach women wherever they might be. We want to give children the best possible start to their lives,” explains one of the hospital gynaecologists.