Editor’s note: The post below was originally published by American Near East Refugee Aid. ANERA serves Palestinian refugees and poor communities in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, and is a partner of Direct Relief. The post appeared on ANERA’s site on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Nestled in Palestine’s Old City of Hebron, the Hebron Charitable Clinic has become an iconic medical care facility in the area since its establishment in 1986.
The clinic started small but has grown to offer a broader range of services to patients in need of medical care.
“Generous donations over the years funded expansions to include a lab, pharmacy, dental unit and, most recently, X-ray and gynecology units,” said Doctor Wael El-Rajabi, who has been with Hebron for several years.
Today, medicine for chronic diseases and antibiotics for children are among the most-needed items at the clinic due to an overall shortage of essential medicines in the region.
“This has put many disadvantaged families under pressure to find affordable, quality medicine,” Dr. El-Rajabi explained.
Known for its quality services and experienced medical staff, Hebron clinic attracts many patients from neighboring villages who are living with chronic diseases. Often times, patients struggle to balance medical treatment needs while working to provide for their families.
Fadya is a Type 2 diabetes patient in her fifties. Last year, Fadya began experiencing health troubles, including excessive thirst, frequent urination, and sudden weight loss. She went to the doctor for blood tests and was told she was diabetic. She needs medication to regulate her blood sugar levels.
“I tried several drugs, but they were ineffective,” she said. Although she is a Hebron resident, she only learned about the clinic recently, from her grandson, who recommended it after a visit.
“Having Type 2 diabetes means that her body doesn’t control blood glucose well. She needs to control her daily sugar intake and get regular exercise in addition to the medicine,” El-Rajabi explains. He prescribes Fadya the oral anti-hyperglycemic drug combination empagliflozin-linagliptin, donated by Direct Relief and distributed to the West Bank clinic by Anera.
Fadya takes monthly blood tests to measure her cumulative blood sugar levels.
Fadya’s face lit up with a smile of relief when she learns that the medicine is free. Bayan, the clinic pharmacist, gently reminds her to make her next appointment and to call the doctor if she feels any side effects. As she’s leaving, she jokes with Bayan about a favorable side-effect, “This medicine helps me lose weight!”
Dental Unit: Treating Infection
In the dental unit, Samia and her husband are talking to the doctor. She has been sleepless for several days because of an aching tooth. “I wanted to visit a dentist immediately to find out why my tooth was hurting so bad,” she said. After an examination, Dr. Qafisheh, the clinic dentist, says she’ll need to have her wisdom tooth removed.
Five days later, Samia visits the doctor once gain, distracting her son with a balloon. Qafisheh removes the problem tooth and prescribes an antibiotic, amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium, after surgery, to reduce the risk of infection and pain following the procedure.
Nearly half of the Palestinian population has no access to health insurance, so medicines that are available free-of-charge with a prescription are always in high demand. “When medication is available to patients for free,” Qafisheh says, “it’s a big help for families struggling with health issues. Especially with everything else these families have to deal with.”