January 16, 2023
On January 16, 2023, it was announced that the Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Fellowship Program (AMMMFP) would be awarding two fellowships for Palestinian physicians to train in Israeli hospitals. The program was established by Project Rozana, an international NGO that builds relationships between Israelis and Palestinians through health. The AMMMFP was launched in 2019 but had to be suspended due to the pandemic.
The two fellowships address gaps in the Palestinian health system in the areas of pediatric intensive care and ophthalmology. Over 40% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza is under the age of 15, but only 10 pediatric intensive care beds are available in the region. Similarly, there is a shortage of ophthalmologists, and only one hospital provides training in general ophthalmology. The AMMMFP awards aim to bridge these gaps in healthcare and contribute to building an independent and sustainable system.
The initiative provides an opportunity for shared experiences and knowledge between Palestinian and Israeli specialists. The proximity of training to a doctor's home in Palestine is essential to prevent a "brain drain" to other countries in the Middle East and Europe.
The two Fellowships address identified gaps in the Palestinian health system in the key areas of pediatric intensive care and ophthalmology.
Dr Ruba Rizik of Al Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem is training in paediatric intensive care at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, and Dr Ahmad Shaheen of Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron will train in ophthalmology at Tel Aviv Medical Center.
The AMMMFP initiative was established in memory of Aiia Maasarwe, a young Palestinian Israeli woman tragically murdered in Melbourne in January 2019. Her family supports the establishment of the Fellowship in her name, believing that it spreads love and hope. The AMMMFP program has been made possible by generous donors, including the Gandel Foundation in Australia.