- Indonesia Hospital saves lives in Gaza
Indonesia Hospital saves lives in Gaza
A US$9m hospital funded by Indonesia’s Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) is the first new medical center to open in Gaza in ten years.
Built just outside the territory’s largest refugee camp in Jabalya, Indonesia Hospital serves some 300,000 Palestinians hard hit by recent conflict.
Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla inaugurated the new hospital, January 9. It has since been treating more than 250 patients a day. In his address, Kalla described Indonesia Hospital as a “symbol of cooperation” that would strengthen the relationship between his nation and Palestine.
Kalla also said he hoped it could serve as an example for the type of action external states should take to help Palestinians gain independence. A 110-bed facility, Indonesia Hospital offers outpatient clinics, general and orthopaedic surgery, a specialized department for abdominal diseases and one of the only modern CT scanners in the region.
Speaking to Reuters on behalf of the Palestinian Health Ministry, Aschraf alQidra said the hospital “represents a great contribution to the health situation in Gaza.” The World Bank estimates that Gaza only has an average 1.3 hospital beds for every 1,000 people. That ratio is 5.4 in the European Union. Shortages of medicine, equipment and staff have also proved chronic.
According to al-Qidra, seriously ill patients must travel to neighboring countries and beyond for specialist treatment. Because Gaza’s border crossings are largely closed “hundreds of lives are at risk,” he said During 2014, hostilities injured some 11,000 people in Gaza, including 1,000 children with now permanent disabilities, according to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA.
Construction on Indonesia Hospital began in 2011 on land donated by Gaza’s government. MER-C Operations Manager, Rima Manzanaris, told Turkey’s state-run press agency, Anadolu, that the blockade on Gaza presented significant difficulties, but that the donor-funded project advanced apace “even in times of war.” According to Manzanaris, MER-C is continuing to collect donations for the hospital from ordinary Indonesians.
“We are looking for donations by—among other ways—presenting the hospital’s development process from school to school. Many students have contributed, even if with only a few thousand rupiah.”
Indonesia Hospital is staffed by some 400 Palestinians, paid by Gaza’s health ministry, as well as a few Indonesian volunteers. Its rooms are named after donors and some of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. MER-C was established by a group of medical students at the University of Indonesia.
According to its website, it aims to deliver medical assistance to victims of war, natural disasters, and other extraordinary events, regardless of religion, nationality or class. To date, MER-C has launched missions at home in Indonesia as well as abroad in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Kashmir, Palestine, the Philippines, Sudan and Thailand. Members are unpaid volunteers.