Caritas Baby Hospital (CBH) was founded in 1953 by Father Ernst Schnydrig, a Swiss priest, in Bethlehem. Since 1963, it has been operated by the Swiss NGO Kinderhilfe Bethlehem -Children’s Relief Bethlehem (CRB), which is based in Luzern, Switzerland.
CBH is the West Bank’s only children’s hospital that offers medical and social services to every child in need, irrespective of origin or religion. Annually, around 50,000 treatments are offered to Palestinian children –up to 18 years of age– in the outpatient department and the inpatient wards of the hospital.
CBH provides treatment for the most basic pediatric illnesses, and for neonatal and congenital disorders. It also caters to patients with hereditary, neurologic and metabolic diseases.
CBH focuses on three pediatric subspecialties –neurology, pulmonology, and neonatal and pediatric intensive care– in accordance to the rising demand for for these services as reflected in the hospital’s strategic plan of 2018-2023.
The majority of our patients come from the southern parts of the West Bank, namely the governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), over 400,000 children live in the served area; making up 42% of the total population.
Better health for all children in Palestine.
Improve health outcomes of children in Palestine through specialized and safe services delivered by a high caliber team.
The foundation of Caritas Baby Hospital date back to the events of 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been displaced and were living in deep poverty in refugee camps following the establishment of the State of Israel and the subsequent war of independence, or Nakba.
Hedwig Vetter, an employee of Caritas Switzerland, traveled to Bethlehem in 1949, where she was confronted with the misery of the Palestinian population. Together with Palestinian physician Dr. Antoine Dabdoub, she set up an outpatient clinic for babies, laying the foundation for Caritas Baby Hospital. In 1952, Caritas Switzerland sent Father Ernst Schnydrig, from the Canton of Valais, Switzerland, to Bethlehem to assess the situation of the Palestinian refugees. He met Hedwig Vetter in Bethlehem. Both Schnydrig and Vetter were convinced that they, as Christians, should help the people living in Jesus’ birthplace. After returning to Europe, Schnydrig began working at the German Caritas Association; from then on, he campaigned to secure financial support in Switzerland and Germany for Caritas Baby Hospital. In 1963, he founded the non-profit association Children's Relief Bethlehem, based in Lucerne.
In April 1978, Caritas Baby Hospital opened its own hospital building. Since then, the hospital has continued to develop and to align their services with global medical standards.