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.
To become the leading center for excellence in pediatric medicine in Palestine.
We are here to provide hope to and enhance the well-being of Palestinian children regardless of their social, religious background and their ability to pay, through our specialized, quality and safe health care services provided in a child friendly environment.
The story of Caritas Baby Hospital dates back to 1952 when the Swiss Fr. Ernst Schnydrig visited Bethlehem with Caritas Switzerland on an exploratory mission of the Palestinian refugees´ situation.
In Bethlehem, Schnydrig met Hedwig Vetter, a Swiss nurse, who had spent the last three years in Bethlehem taking care of children in need. They realized the despair in the Palestinian context and the urgent need for medical care, especially for children, and as Christians, they felt the need to serve the people in the birthplace of Jesus.
Back in Europe, Schnydrig promoted the need to help Palestinian children, and in 1953, he came back to Bethlehem and established the first emergency clinic for children, a two-room rental with seven beds. With the support of Hedwig Vetter and Antoine Dabdoub, a local doctor, Caritas Baby Hospital started its operation. Twenty five years later -in April 1978- the new hospital building was inaugurated.
The Caritas association supported CBH over the course of 10 years after its establishment. The hospital currently operates independently, under the aegis of Children’s Relief Bethlehem (CRB), a Christian relief agency, which Fr. Shnydrig founded in 1963 to sponsor and operate it. However the name ‘Caritas’ was maintained as a reminder of the “charitable” and “love for all” mission of the hospital.