Eye walk-in clinic opens in Muristan, Jerusalem, where the very first Order’s hospital was established in the 12th century
The hospital is managed by the Most Venerable Order of Saint John of Jerusalem thanks to an agreement with the Holy Family Hospital
Layla is a 9-year-old Palestinian girl. Like all her peers, she enjoyes playing and running in the open air. When she was 7, her parents – an almond farmer and a housewife from a city in the North West Bank – noticed she couldn’t see well. They immediately took her to the local doctor who referred them to the St John Clinic in Anabta, the ophthalmic hospital located in the Old city of Jerusalem in Muristan Street. Here she underwent surgery and completely recovered her eyesight which had been fading progressively due to a mature bilateral cataract that was leading her to blindness. In this very location, in the 12th century, the knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, today the Order of Malta, guided by founder Blessed Gerard established their first hospital providing health care to the pilgrims of all faiths arriving in the Holy Land. The hospital had different wings and departments depending on the nature of the illness and the condition of the patient – similar to the arrangements in a modern hospital. In an emergency, the hospital could accept as many as 2.000 patients. The Order’s hospitallers treated sick men and women of different religions with respect and dignity regardless of their religion and origin.
Centuries later the hospitaller tradition continues: this ancient beautiful building provides primary and emergency eye care for residents and tourists in the Old City. Many who live here are stallholders, who rarely can afford travelling long distances. The movement restrictions between the Old City and the outskirts of Jerusalem also make it hard for residents to move freely.
The clinic provides easy access to eye care whilst also addressing the problem of residents not attending follow-up visits at the main hospital located in the outskirts of the city, wholly owned by the Most Venerable Order of Saint John. In October 2016 the Holy Family Hospital, the maternity hospital located in Bethlehem managed by the Order of Malta, signed an agreement with the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem to enhance the provision of eye care with the opening of the walk in clinic. The facility, managed by the British charity, is expected to see approximately 5,500 patients a year.
The old city of Jerusalem is inhabited by around 33,000 Palestinians who face daily restriction moving to the outside part of the city. The population rate is increasing every year and there is no single ophthalmic service available within the walls of the city. The hospital is a member of the World Association of Eye Hospitals and of the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network supported by the EU and WHO.