U.S. Government Provides Augusta Victoria Hospital with New Radiation Therapy System

Representatives from USAID, LWF and AVH at the opening of the new linear accelerator

RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY. Representatives from USAID, LWF and AVH celebrated the inauguration of the new linear accelerator machine at the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on March 17, 2011.  Left to right: American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein; AVH CEO Dr. Tawfiq Nasser; Swedish Consul General in Jerusalem Axel Wernhoff; USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey; Representative of the EKD in the Holy Land Propst Dr. Uwe Grabe; AVH Board Chair and ELCJHL Bishop Dr. Munib Younan; German Representative Office in Ramallah Head of Mission Gotz Lingenthal; LWF Regional Representative Rev. Mark Brown; Cancer patient ‘A’; and LWF/AVH Accountant Mira Petro.

JERUSALEM, March 19, 2011/April 4, 2011 (LWF Jerusalem) – Augusta Victoria Hospital and partners celebrated the introduction of a new radiation therapy system on Thursday, March 17. The system, a medical linear accelerator, will double the capacity of the hospital’s current Radiology Unit, and will benefit Palestinian cancer patients by locally providing the highest-quality care available.

The accelerator was provided by the U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development Project.

Participants at the inauguration event included hospital staff, representatives from the Lutheran World Federation, which manages the Augusta Victoria Hospital, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), local health care leaders, and representatives from the U.S. Consulate General and other international diplomatic missions.

Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital, noted the significance of the additional medical linear accelerator by stating, “USAID managed in one gift to alleviate the national expenditure on health, create employment, treat patients, respond to the medical needs of West Bank and Gaza patients, and create medical specializations that are not available to the Palestinian community.”

Bishop Munib Younan blessing the new linear accelerator

BLESSING OF THE NEW RADIATION THERAPY SYSTEM. Left to right: AVH Board Chair and ELCJHL Bishop Dr. Munib Younan; LWF Regional Representative Rev. Mark Brown; American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein; USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey; Representative of the EKD in the Holy Land Propst Dr. Uwe Grabe; German Representative Office in Ramallah Head of Mission Gotz Lingenthal; AVH CEO Dr. Tawfiq Nasser; Swedish Consul General in Jerusalem Axel Wernhoff; Cancer patient ‘A’; Engineer Ibrahim Younan.

The new $4.9 million medical linear accelerator will help meet the current and future demands for treatment of cancer among the Palestinian population. Augusta Victoria Hospital was the first hospital to introduce a radiation therapy unit for the 3.8 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. The hospital also maintains the only pediatric cancer unit serving the Palestinian population.

President of the Lutheran World Federation and Bishop of the ELCJHL Dr. Munib A. Younan said the LWF is honored to have this role in serving the Palestinian population. “In our work here, we seek to bring people from Gaza and the West Bank to benefit from this ministry of healing in Jerusalem, for Jerusalem must always be the city of healing,” he stated.

The addition of a second medical linear accelerator will strengthen the hospital’s role as a comprehensive cancer treatment center, improve the quality and availability of cancer treatment, and will cost-effectively reduce the number of referrals abroad, meeting the priority needs of those it serves.

Speaking at the event, American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein told guests, “We are proud to assist a process that will help to provide a more positive future for Palestinian cancer patients, their families and all who dedicate time to their care.”

USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey added, “The purchase of this state-of-the-art equipment represents a long-term investment in a healthier future for Palestinians.”

The U.S. Government through USAID is supporting the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health to strengthen its institutional capacity to sustain a functional and democratic Palestinian health sector that is able to meet priority public health needs. In addition, the project supports select non-governmental organizations like Augusta Victoria Hospital in providing services that complement the Ministry’s reform and development agenda to improve quality, sustainability and equity within the health sector.

In his remarks, Rev. Mark Brown, Regional Representative of the Lutheran World Federation, expressed his gratitude to the American people and government and affirmed the commitment of the LWF to “continue to serve in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza and uphold the rights of the poor and oppressed until the day when they see their freedoms and rights returned.”

Rev. Brown gave special thanks at the event to Dr. Nasser and the Augusta Victoria Hospital staff. “All of this would not have been achieved without the dedication of our staff,” he said. “They work with remarkable determination every day and face very difficult and sad life situations with courage. They treat, but more importantly they give hope, love and care, to sick children and adults.”

Acknowledgments were also given to the Norwegian Government for its support in building the radiation-safe facility in which the new linear accelerator machine is housed.

Click here to learn more about Augusta Victoria Hospital and the work of the LWF in Jerusalem.