The goal of healthcare systems isn’t just to treat illness when it arises; rather, a good healthcare system also actively works to promote health education and disease prevention in hopes of reducing or mitigating chronic disease. Research has shown that preventive care, which takes a proactive approach to detecting and treating disease, rather than a reactive one, is linked to reduced morbidity and mortality, particularly when it comes to chronic disease. What’s more, preventive care is widely believed to be more cost-efficient, both for individuals and the healthcare system. In the United States alone, for example, it’s estimated that better preventive health care could save the country over $50 billion each year.
Of course, the value of preventive healthcare goes far beyond its potential financial benefits. Experts estimate that widespread adoption of preventive health measures could save up to 100,000 lives in the US each year, not to mention immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering for chronic disease patients and their families. Preventive care also has the potential to reduce hospital admissions, which in turn increases the amount of healthcare resources and personnel capacity available to treat emergent patients or widespread public health problems (such as the COVID-19 pandemic).
It’s with that in mind that Nazareth Hospital has deepened its efforts at health education and disease prevention in conjunction with the expansion of the Hospital’s dialysis unit and public health outreach. The expansion was made possible by a grant in the amount of $891,475 to the Nazareth Project Inc. from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program in fall of 2020, as well as a generous donation from Najeeb Farah, a Canadian businessman with family roots in Nazareth.
ASHA, which is a branch of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is dedicated to providing assistance to hospitals, school and libraries with the ultimate goal of promoting social advancement and building partnerships in health service provision and education. NPI has received multiple grants from ASHA in the past.
Farah’s gift was made in memory of his late father, Reverend Canon Shafiq A. Farah, who suffered from kidney failure before his death in 2002. Najeeb Farah, who attended the ceremony celebrating the opening of the department in June of 2022, said, “When my dad passed away, I promised him I would do something for the Hospital.” Farah kept his promise to his father, and in honor of his donation, the new dialysis department bears the name of the late Rev. Farah.
The ASHA funds have been used to purchase new dialysis machines and other related equipment for Nazareth Hospital, thereby increasing the Hospital’s capacity to provide essential treatment to patients suffering from kidney failure.
The Nazareth Hospital’s goal is not simply to treat kidney disease, but also to prevent it altogether by bolstering education and outreach around diabetes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in the kidneys. High blood pressure, which is also common among people with diabetes, can also weaken the kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, around 30% of individuals with Type I diabetes and 10%-40% of those with Type II diabetes eventually develop end-stage kidney failure.
In Israel, the prevalence of diabetes among adults is 9.9%. Diabetes is an especially topical concern in Nazareth since Arab Israelis have a higher incidence of diabetes due to diet and lifestyle factors.
The best way to prevent kidney disease and other complications related to diabetes is by maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. To that end, Nazareth Hospital has been working on community outreach and education programs designed to increase awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles for preventing and managing diabetes. These programs, which include social media, radio, and TV messaging, focused on providing individuals with actionable tips to improve their nutrition, manage their blood sugar levels, and if needed, select the best treatment options for them.
The Nazareth Project is the primary US partner of the Nazareth Trust, an organization dedicated to serving the population of the Middle East and the wider world through healthcare, education, proclamation, and service. Our work and mission are rooted in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, though we are committed to serving all peoples, regardless of faith, political affiliation, or tradition. Offerings of the Trust include the Nazareth Hospital and the Nazareth Academic School of Nursing, as well as Nazareth Village and SERVE Nazareth, all of which allow patients, students, volunteers, pilgrims, and tourists to deepen their relationship with God and one another. Contact us today for more information on our programs, or consider donating to support our work!