By Baruch Yedid/TPS • 27 October, 2019
A severe crisis in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) medical system and a decision by the PA’s prime minister to boycott Israeli hospitals have put the life of Arab cancer patients in danger, TPS has learned.
The Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem, which serves the Arab public, has announced it will no longer receive patients from the PA, which has accumulated a NIS 200 million debt to the hospital.
This is the only hospital in the PA which treats cancer and dialysis patients.
The hospital is facing a mass deficit following the PA’s failure to pay its debt. A senior PA official told TPS that the PA has accused the hospital’s management of corruption and has, therefore, ceased to pay the medical bills.
In the meantime, the wards are overflowing with patients after the PA has decided to boycott Israeli hospitals.
The PA government recently announced it is transferring PA patients to Arab countries, rather than to hospitals in Israel. Such a move, according to Israeli sources, could cause the Hadassah hospital damages of NIS 100 million a year.
The head of the society for the treatment of cancer patients, Reezak al-Suss, tells of patients who have been turned away from the hospital without receiving treatment.
Patients and their families will protest against the PA’s move on Monday at the Augusta Victoria hospital and in front of the PA health ministry. The PA government is set to convene for an emergency meeting on the matter.
They also launched a campaign under the banner of “save the cancer patients – death threatens thousands,” and issued harsh criticism of the PA and its move to boycott Israeli hospitals.
An online campaign on the matter features difficult to watch photos and clips that highlight the plight of the children.
Similarly, PA residents are accusing the leadership of corrupt conduct in which they seek medical treatment in Israeli hospitals, but prohibit the PA residents from doing so.
“The PA is playing political games on the backs of children with cancer,” a resident of east Jerusalem told TPS, adding that “the hospital’s management complains of warehouses empty of medications and large debts to the banks, and is pointing a finger at the PA government’s decision to prevent the transfer of patients to Israel.”
The cost of treating cancer and dialysis patients is more than NIS 15 million every month. In 2017, the PA transferred over NIS 170 million to the hospital, and by 2018, budget transfers dropped to NIS 90 million. The hospital’s debt now totals at NIS 200 million.