Huge EU grant to help boost Palestinian-Israeli healthcare cooperation

Australian Medical Association/AusMed

Project Rozana, an international charity dedicated to building the health capacity of Palestinian society by leveraging Israel’s world-class healthcare system has been awarded a €741,286 (A$1,193,650) grant by the European Union (EU).

The funds will expand the work of the Binational School of Psychotherapy (BNSP), a unique training program based at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

The BNSP was established in 2016 to train Palestinian and Israeli child psychologists in the latest strategies and techniques for dealing with children in the region suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Project Rozana was founded in Australia in 2013. Today it has affiliates in Canada, Israel and the USA. Its mission is to build bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health.

The BNSP opened as a Project Rozana pilot program in 2016 with A$420,000 from World Vision Australia (WVA). The first cohort comprised eight Israelis and eight Palestinians (six from the West Bank and two from Gaza.

The success of the pilot and the resulting professional and personal outcomes encouraged Project Rozana to apply for funding under the EU Peacebuilding Initiative.

The announcement of the EU grant is a significant milestone for Project Rozana and seen as an endorsement of its approach to people-to-people relationship building. This also meets the EU’s priority for professionalised programs that offer measurable outcomes and scalable models.

Tim Costello AO, the former CEO of WVA, said cross-border learning and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals is critical to enhance psychosocial health care to children and adolescents.

“We have already noticed an increase in the professional interaction between Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals as a result of their involvement in the BNSP,” Mr Costello said.

“This is promoting co-existence and building mutual trust through shared experiences.”

Mr Costello also said that the BNSP is contributing to women’s empowerment by ensuring that no less than 50 per cent of students are women.

The EU grant represents 80 per cent of the funding needed for the next 40 months, with the balance to be provided by Project Rozana. It is estimated that the funding will allow for 60 Israeli and Palestinian psychotherapists working in the field of child and adolescent mental health to complete the course.

It will also fund the BNSP to undertake curriculum development and accreditation by the World Health Organisation.

Ron Finkel AM, founder of Project Rozana and Chair of Project Rozana International noted that since 1998, the EU has been actively supporting civil society initiatives in the Middle East.

“There is no shortage of worthy recipients, but through its EU Peacebuilding Initiative, they have chosen to make this grant to a relatively new organisation,” he said.

“Even more impressive is that it represents 7.9 per cent of the total grant available in this funding round. I believe it’s a deep endorsement of our work, our values and the importance of building cross-border professional networks.”

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