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April 24, 2008

Lutherans in Canada support first geriatric care centre in West Bank; Canadian funding to ease medical crisis in Palestinian Territories

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) are contributing $632,000 to improve access to essential health care in the Palestinian Territories. The much-needed funding will be directed to the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem, the only institution offering specialized medical services like cancer treatment and dialysis to Palestinians.

CLWR in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) initiated this call for aid following the health care crisis created by the international embargo blocking funds to Palestinian authorities after the election of Hamas in January 2006. In April 2006, the ELCIC and CLWR provided $60,000 USD to AVH for immediate relief and together they have encouraged both provincial and federal governments as well as members of the church and the general public to provide financial support for the provision of medical treatment among the Palestinian population.

“This support is very timely for the AVH,” says Robert Granke, CLWR executive director. “The improvements and expansion will enhance the capacity of the hospital to provide valuable services to Palestinians, including elderly patients and their families. The ELCIC and CLWR are pleased to receive this tangible support from the Government of Canada in response to the ongoing health care needs in the region.”

“We are very pleased with this development,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “This contribution will help provide much needed assistance to the region. We are grateful for our partnership with CLWR and, through them, with CIDA, for helping make this possible.”

Funding will be used to increase access to quality health services for elderly Palestinians in need by enlarging the capacity of Augusta Victoria Hospital’s geriatric care ward from a 16-bed unit into a 28-bed unit. Since its inception in 1998 the demand for a bed is overwhelming, and at any given time there are no fewer than five people on a waiting list. In 2006, 29 patients were admitted to the sub-acute care unit – 12 men and 17 women. The average length of stay was 184.41 days. Construction will commence immediately and is expected to be completed by December 2008.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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