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July 12, 2022 1:13 pm

Israeli Hospital to Bring Prenatal Telehealth to Underserved West Bank Areas

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

A woman rinses her mouth with a saline wash, at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, in Ramat Gan, Israel, Aug. 13, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

Israel’s largest medical center on Tuesday announced a new program to train female Palestinian healthcare workers in providing pregnant women with remote care and fetal monitoring for patients in the rural Hebron area.

The program, run by Sheba Medical Center’s virtual OB-GYN Beyond department and the Project Rozana nonprofit, aims to expand healthcare access for Palestinians with the use of telehealth technologies. The project will set up a remote OB-GYN unit in the Hebron area, in the West Bank, to be operated by Palestinian health workers.

“Enabling Palestinians to provide healthcare in their remote communities lays the groundwork for an empowered people,” Ronit Zimmer, executive director of Project Rozana, said in a statement. “The training at Sheba will enable local healthcare workers to operate virtual clinics in remote areas, eliminating many logistical, bureaucratic, and security obstacles for rural residents seeking quality healthcare.”

Project Rozana is enaged in training programs for Palestinian health professionals in Israeli hospitals, and in transporting Palestinian patients from checkpoints in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Israeli hospitals.

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“Telemedicine allows us to bridge geographical, political and cultural gaps in the shared vision of optimal health outcomes,” said Dr. Avi Tsur, director of Sheba Medical Center’s Women’s Health Innovation Center.

Healthcare workers participating in the program will learn how to better employ remote fetal heart monitoring, remote fetal ultrasound and digital urinalysis. Going forward, the participants — a group that includes gynecologists, midwives, nurses, a pediatrician, a nutritionist, a physical therapist and a psychologist — will continue to get regular clinical support from Sheba, the hospital said.

The program’s unveiling comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and the West Bank this week, during which he plans to announce confidence-building measures to include funding for healthcare serving Palestinians, the Sheba center added.

During a visit to Sheba Medical Center in June, US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides was introduced to the hospital’s outreach initiatives to the Palestinian community, which sees patients from the Gaza Strip and West Bank brought for urgent care on a daily basis, and its collaboration with the Palestinian Authority to train doctors.

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