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CNEWA-supported clinic leveled in Gaza

12 Jan 2009 New York — A family health care clinic sponsored by the Near East Council of Churches in the Shija’ia neighborhood of Gaza City was leveled yesterday as fighting between Israel and Hamas continued in the Gaza Strip. Constantine Dabbagh, the council’s executive director, reported no casualties as the area had already been evacuated.

More than 10,000 families, including 31,828 children, were registered with the clinic, which was one of three family health care centers operated by the council with funding in part from CNEWA.

Services at the family clinic in Shija’ia included prenatal and postnatal care, such as monthly gynecological care, routine examinations and regular well-baby checkups. The clinic staff also offered rudimentary preventative health care classes, which pointed out the health risks of unrefrigerated food, good hygiene and proper overall nutrition. The clinic also offered mobile dental care, which included basic care as well as lessons in dental hygiene.

Though the clinics originally charged, at cost, all medications for adult patients, deteriorating political and socioeconomic conditions in Shija’ia had forced the clinic to provide all medicines for free, accepting nominal contributions from beneficiaries when offered.

Rushing emergency relief to the people of Gaza will be the first priority of the council once hostilities cease, said Constantine Dabbagh, who has served the Near East Council of Churches in Gaza for 30 years. Gaza’s tiny Christian community of Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans are represented in the council, whose clinics have provided quality prenatal and postnatal care to tens of thousands of needy Gazans since 1987.

To make an immediate gift, visit or send your check by mail to CNEWA, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY, 10022-4195, or call toll free at 1-800-442-6392.

Founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, CNEWA is a special agency of the Holy See providing support to the churches and peoples of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. Programs in the Middle East include emergency relief, including help to displaced Lebanese, Iraqi and Palestinian families, long-term community redevelopment projects, job creation programs and pre- and post-natal medical care.