Students and health professionals review COVID-19 challenges, treatment options in Palestine

Students, instructors, and members of the Palestinian community discussed COVID-19 infection rates in Palestine and the local health sector’s readiness to combat the pandemic in a webinar organized by Birzeit University’s Department of Nursing, part of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Professions, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. 

Delivered virtually with more than 100 participants, the webinar was led by Dr. Murad Karajeh, an intensive care physician and instructor at Al-Quds University. Dr. Karajeh previously led COVID-19 treatment efforts in Ramallah as director of the Hugo Chavez hospital. Khalid Yaseen, head of the Department of Nursing, chaired the session. 

Discussing the rate of COVID-19 infections in Palestine, Karajeh stressed that the pandemic is still ongoing and that hospitalizations due to the disease are rapidly rising in numbers. Such an increase, he explained, could be mainly attributed to the lack of proper at-home care for COVID-19 patients as well as failure to follow health and safety guidelines. 

COVID-19 patients, noted Karajeh, should remain at home and at rest, perform breathing exercises, maintain a well-balanced diet, and follow general health guidelines prescribed by their doctors.  

Karajeh also highlighted the different treatment options for COVID-19 cases in Palestine, including medications and, in more extreme cases, mechanical ventilation. He argued that a year of battling a global pandemic has exposed some weaknesses in the Palestinian healthcare system, which can only be addressed by implementing modern intensive-care standards and training more intensive-care and respiratory specialists. 

As for vaccines, Karajeh argued that getting vaccinated is not only a personal choice, but also a social responsibility, calling on those with access to COVID-19 vaccines to take them as soon as possible. He also answered the attendees’ questions on the differences between the available vaccines and urged them to follow official sources for health information and ignore unverified reports on social media.

This webinar is the second in a series of public lectures and talks launched by the Faculty of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Professions to raise awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic and global efforts to combat its spread. The series highlights various public health issues and concerns related to the pandemic and features outside experts as well as professors and instructors from the faculty’s Audiology and Speech Therapy, Nutrition and Dietetics, Pharmacy, and Nursing departments.

The series’ inaugural webinar saw public health experts and professors discuss the types of COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use and the differences between them.