The 2023 edition of the António Champalimaud Vision Award recognises the St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group for its work supporting hundreds of thousands of people living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem, helping in the fight against blindness while providing access to essential health services in a region marked by conflict and instability.
The St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group (SJEHG) has been developing its activity at the centre of three major world religions. The ongoing conflict in the region has had a severe impact on health care access and delivery.
Without the intervention of the SJEHG, the rate of blindness would be rampant, increasing the heavy economic burden already suffered by people in the region. The SJEHG continues to innovate through research on the causes and risk factors for eye issues unique to the region, training of eye care providers from the local population, and delivering state-of-the art services to even the most isolated and vulnerable people in the West Bank and Gaza.
The SJEHG is the only hospital specialised in eyecare in the Palestinian territories, where it has been present for 140 years. Over the past decade, SJEHG has treated the eyesight of hundreds of thousands of people, regardless of ethnicity, religion, social class, or economic capacity. In 2022, 143,000 patients were reached, and 6,900 major surgeries were performed.
An epidemiological study carried out by SJEHG showed that the rate of blindness in Palestine is ten times higher than in the West. This is due to mobility issues, unemployment and poverty rates, as well as high levels of genetic eye diseases. In addition to providing health care, the SJEHG has trained teams of Palestinian doctors and nurses specialising in ophthalmology.
In total, the SJEHG is composed of six hospitals and three mobile outreach services, with 277 health professionals spread across the various territories of Palestine.
The 2023 António Champalimaud Vision Award, the world’s largest award in the field of vision, worth 1 million euros, now acknowledges the SJEHG for its commitment to providing essential eyecare in this region marked by conflict.