JERUSALEM, September 24, 2013 (WAFA) – Despite recent European Union (EU) coverage of some of the Palestinian Authority (PA) debt to the East Jerusalem Hospitals (EJHs) by over $17 million, the hospitals are still facing major cash flow problems as a result of accrued debt from the PA for specialized patient care, totaling $24.15 million as of July 31, a press release by the Jerusalem office of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.
By the end of September, this debt will exceed $28 million.
The PA’s debt to the EJHs has persisted over the last year as donor support to the PA has decreased.
The East Jerusalem Hospitals Network (EJHN) includes six facilities — Makassed Charitable Hospital, Augusta Victoria Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, St. John Eye Hospital, Palestine Red Crescent Society Hospital and Princess Basma Rehabilitation Center, — which serve as the main centers for specialized care within the Palestinian health system, said the press release.
Patients needing services and procedures that are not available in the West Bank and Gaza are referred for treatment in the EJHN facilities by the Ministry of Health (MoH).
In 2012, a total of 25,381 West Bank and Gaza patients were referred by MoH to East Jerusalem, representing over 45% of all MoH referrals, and more than half of the EJHN caseload.
The recent EU support to the PA has enabled the PA to provide remuneration to the EJHs for the services provided in 2012. Some of the EJHs also received payment for part of 2013.
However, the PA debt to the EJHs continues to accumulate given the PA’s current lack of financial capacity to cover costs for patients referred for treatment in the EJHs, which would reach $28 million.
“This continuous debt has negatively impacted hospital operations causing hospitals to request credit lines, delay payment to vendors and postpone staff salaries,” said the statement.
The EJHN and its six health facilities have been supported by the EU and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the last four years for quality improvement and institutional development.
“The achievements of this program will also be threatened if the financial crisis continues,” it said, adding that “The EJHN is seeking urgent financial assistance to sustain the services of the six hospitals. It is calling on donors to support the PA to meet its obligation towards the EJHs – and requesting that funds be allocated directly to the PA (or donated directly to the Hospitals) to be used specifically for paying off PA debts to the EJHs.”