A Widespread Epidemic
The Bethlehem region is currently battling a longstanding diabetes epidemic that affects an estimated 18% of the Palestinian population. The disease is especially dangers for expectant mothers, who face increased risks for pregnancy complications, birth defects, preterm birth, and miscarriage.
Treatment for gestational diabetes is expensive. Unfortunately, the disease disproportionately affects women of a lower socioeconomic status, making treatment impossible for many families to afford.
In 2010, Holy Family Hospital launched the West Bank’s first Diabetes Clinic geared specifically toward the unique medical needs of women with gestational diabetes. The Clinic provides vital laboratory testing, detailed scans, Doppler echocardiography, consultations with a dedicated dietitian, and, when necessary, hospitalization during pregnancy to regulate complications.
Our patients are those with few resources and great need. Nearly half of all Diabetes Clinic patients are referred to Holy Family Hospital by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) or the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
To date, the Clinic has screened over 2,500 women for diabetes and offers a range of monitoring and treatment options for those who are diagnosed. Approximately 80% of women treated at the Clinic successfully manage their diabetes with proper diet alone, and are able to avoid insulin therapy.
Perhaps the strongest evidence of the clinic’s success can be seen in the 5% decrease in the number of newborns admitted to the Hospital’s NICU since the Clinic’s inception.