St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group

Saving Sight in Gaza Appeal

As a charity that's worked in the region for over 100 years, we have one aim: Saving sight, changing lives. The people affected are among the most disadvantaged in the world and this war will create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
RCN 1139527

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“We can’t wait any longer. Our patients are suffering. We have to be with them and help rebuild their lives.” Waleed Shaquora, Gaza Hospital Manager, speaking on the eve of the response.

This month the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital is officially launching the largest ever emergency appeal in its 140-year history.

Over the next 12 months we must urgently raise £6m to reestablish vital eye care facilities in conflict torn Gaza.

Our staff on the ground are starting to assess the eye care needs and provide care to people who have been trapped in the war zone for more than seven months.

“Hearing the terrible circumstances from our teams on the ground I cannot emphasis enough just how important this Appeal is. I know I can count on our network of supporters to understand the urgency and make this a success” says Sir Andrew Cash, SJEHG Chairman.

Speaking about the launch Dr Ahmed Maali, SJEHG CEO, said: "Anyone following the news these past few months, will need little introduction to the desperate situation going on in Gaza.

"Since the start of the war, children, women, and men, who through no fault of their own, have found themselves without even the most basic of human needs.

"That includes access to sight-saving treatment, which is why we need to get our facilities back up and running as quickly as possible so that we can fulfil our guiding mission: Saving Sight, Changing Lives.

"There are obviously going to be so many competing demands over the next few months as 2.3 million ordinary Gazans look to rebuild their homes, schools, businesses, and infrastructure.

"But the most urgent of these is rebuilding shattered lives traumatised by war; after all, it is hard to look to a future if you cannot see."

Even before the conflict, as the single largest provider of eyecare in the territory, we treated an average of 40,000 people and performed 3,000 surgical treatments every year in Gaza.

That work was suspended as our staff on the ground sought refuge from the fighting. The result is not only a mounting backload of patients but many more now in need of treatment, either from injury or disease.

In a region where over 69,000 people are either blind or living with the early onset of sight loss, tens of thousands more could be on track to lose their sight.

This emergency response will mean delivering primary and secondary services, resupplying the region with medical supplies and equipment, and repairing damage to our hospital, which, although plundered and sustaining collateral bomb damage, is still standing.

It is being overseen by the team in Jerusalem and three project coordinators on the ground.

During phase 1 of the response, each coordinator will supervise a mobile treatment station in the middle and south of Gaza. 16 staff from the hospital group, who have volunteered, will provide patient care. Daily security assessments will be conducted to ensure the safety of staff.

In the meantime, our work in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must go on. Outreach levels hit record levels in 2023 and we have plans to further improve access to care and treatment in 2024.

In collaboration with partners such as the World Health Organisation, UNRWA, the Palestinian Red Crescent, and support from the Fred Hollows Foundation and CBM International, hospital staff are now in the early weeks of a phased reintroduction of eye health services in Gaza.

We know firsthand the profound impact of saving a person’s sight – from an improved quality of life, greater social inclusion and access to more opportunities, through to better mental health, reduced dependency, and greater social inclusion.

Now, as the main provider of eye care in Gaza, our work is more vital than ever.

About the charity

St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group is the only charitable provider of expert eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, treating patients regardless of ethnicity, religion or ability to pay.

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