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Arab Christian Hospital Receives Honour from the Chairman of the Israeli Parliament

GLASGOW, Scotland, December 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

A hospital in Nazareth, owned and operated by UK Christian charity, The Nazareth Trust, has become the first non-Jewish organisation since the creation of the State of Israel to receive the annual Chairman of the Knesset Award (Knesset is the Parliament of Israel).

The hospital, known locally as 'The English Hospital', received the award for demonstrating a positive, national impact on the country, its cross-community cultural sensitivity, educational outreach and contribution to Arab healthcare.  Based in Nazareth, in the Northern Galilee region of Israel, it serves the local population (who are predominantly Arab) without distinction, regardless of religion, community or political affiliation. It operates a 24 hour accident and emergency department and delivers a full range of hospital and community based services.

Owned and managed by UK charity, The Nazareth Trust, Chairman Ian Lyall and CEO Joseph Main joined Dr Bishara Bisharat, Head of the Hospital, in Jerusalem today at a ceremony in the Knesset where they accepted the award from Reuven Rivlin, Chairman of the Knesset, who remarked in his opening speech that the "English" Hospital has served the whole of Israel by also serving as a bridge between the Jewish and Arab communities in the country.

The Nazareth Hospital was founded 150 years ago by P K Vartan, who along with his Scottish wife, Mary Anne Stewart, established a simple four bed clinic within their home.   Today the hospital has 146 beds, treats 50,000 within its emergency department each year and delivers 2,000 babies annually.

Accepting the award of the commemorative certificate on behalf of the Nazareth Hospital EMMS, Dr Bishara Bisharat said, "We are truly honoured to accept this award, which crowns the year of celebration for our 150 year anniversary.  When asked how we have continued for so long in this region, our answer is that we have remained true to the mission and values upon which we were founded."

The Hospital, which is fully integrated into the Israeli health system, is the second largest employer in the city and is part of the Scottish Christian Charity, The Nazareth Trust, which also owns and operates a nursing school and international volunteering programme called SERVE.

Ian Lyall, Chairman of the Trustees of The Nazareth Trust added, "The Hospital has a remarkable history and against all odds, has continued to have a real impact on the healthcare of this community, by seeking to serve all as part of our foundational mission. "

"Its ability to operate in such difficult circumstances has enabled it to attract continued support from around the world and we are indebted to that.   This award is significant for our staff, volunteers and supporters."

The Chairman of the Knesset Award is presented annually to recognise organisations which have made a contribution of national importance to communities and the wider society.

Joseph R. Main, CEO, The Nazareth Trust, added, "At a time when the world is focused on conflict and its aftermath in the Middle East, it is significant for an organisation such as ours - that is a Scottish Christian Charity, delivering the general hospital in an Arab city, in the Jewish State of Israel - and even older than the Modern State of Israel itself - to be honoured by the Israeli Parliamentary body  in this way. It is significant because the services we provide, our motivations, methods and aspirations have been recognised by the nation as vehicles for peace, co-operation and the building of bridges between peoples."

The Nazareth Hospital EMMS was founded in 1861 by Dr P K Vartan, originally from Istanbul and a graduate of Edinburgh University Medical School. Dr P K Vartan was sponsored to go to Nazareth by the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society, which was founded by a group of Edinburgh doctors to train medical students to work as missionaries overseas.

BBC presenter and author, Malcolm Billings, has just published a book on the life of P K Vartan and the hospital's history.

Further information is available from http://www.nazarethtrust.org.

For further information:
Sharon McEwan
Loop Public Relations
+44(0)141-354-6542/+44(0)7801-560-231
goodnews@prbyloop.com


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