Global Health Investments Are Advancing Dialogue in The Middle East
By Amaya Phillips
HOLON, Israel- An Israeli based organization, founded by Dr. Ami Cohen, is spreading modern technology and medical opportunities to underdeveloped areas of the world in efforts to promote peace in the Middle East. The organization Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), founded in 1995, has one mission: to save children’s lives. Since 1995, SACH has conducted over three thousand heart surgeries on children who were diagnosed with congenital and acquired heart defects. While an average heart surgery today costs $10,000, the families of children served by this organization are asked to pay nothing. More than half of the children, about one hundred a year, are from the West Bank and Gaza. Although Israeli and Middle Eastern tensions remain uneasy, this program has quickly received world recognition for its ability to overlook individual differences in its efforts to save a child.
The organization first started with only three members and extremely low funding, which enabled them to operate occasionally on children from surrounding regions. Yet, SACH has been able to globalize quickly through donations from wealthy supporters and developed governments. The organization reports that they conduct a free heart surgery every 29 hours within the year, with the surgical budget amassing to roughly $3,022,413.
The Save a Child’s Heart organization has quickly gained international recognition as it has received a massive amount of support from renowned organizations and world superpowers. In hopes of further promoting peaceful interactions in the Middle East, world superpowers such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France have made substantial donations to the organization. In 2010 and 2011, the UK government donated €10,302 to SACH for Israeli and Palestinian political advocacy. The USA has granted SACH one million dollars to train Palestinian doctors from the West Bank (2013-2016). France similarly sponsors yearly treatment for 50 Palestinian children, as well as the training of Palestinian doctors in pediatric cardiology.
The United Nations has also publicly declared their support of SACH with “recognition for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council” (ECOSOC). In addition, the United Nations aired a documentary titled “Palestine and Israel Mending Hearts.” The documentary follows the story of Mohie; a Palestinian baby born with a congenital heart defect. The documentary covers the family’s journey from crossing the border, interacting with Israeli doctors, and completing a life threatening heart surgery. Although the cultural differences remain evident amongst the two parties, both willingly put them aside in efforts to care for Mohie:
Abuhal: “Will his heart be ok?”
Israeli Cardiologist: “Yes he is ok now.”
The capacity of the differing parties to cease hostilities and to punctuate the good news through an exchange of opposite languages, demonstrates a small step in the overarching conflict between Israel and Palestine. The SACH organization is working towards fostering a compassionate understanding between the two groups.
The loss of a child is a universal sentiment that all can relate to. Through the globalization of SACH, the organization has been able to overcome political, social, and economic barriers that separate the human race, in efforts to give the gift of life to humans. Through provisions of global aid, the organization is mending not only a baby’s heart, but also the hearts of Israeli and Palestinian communities.