A group of StandWithUs Israel Fellows at Tel Aviv University has organized a unique conference on how to develop medical and humanitarian missions for victims of international conflicts and natural disasters. The three-day program, from July 25th to July 28th, was hosted by the prestigious Sackler Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University.
About 70 medical students and activists from 25 difference countries, from Bosnia to Nigeria, will be attending, including the chairmen of the Student Medical Associations in the U.S., the European Union, Sweden, and Bosnia. "I am aware of the Turkish criticism of Israel, and would like to hear more about the limits of providing humanitarian aid in such a sensitive conflict," said Onur Nihat, a Turkish participant.
"Israel's medical innovations and its rapid, high quality emergency missions to help victims of catastrophes--from the Turkey earthquake, to the Katrina flooding, the Haiti earthquake, and its assistance today for burn victims in the Congo—have set an international standard. Israel also has dealt with humanitarian needs during armed conflict, and has multiple NGOs who set up humanitarian programs in Israel for Palestinians. This conference will allow aspiring medics from around the world to learn from Israel's vast experience and expertise in these fields," said Michael Dickson, Director of StandWithUs Israel.
The wide-ranging program includes panels on different aspects of humanitarian aid and meetings with experts. Participants will visit an Israel Defense Force [IDF] military base to watch how IDF special units set up field hospitals during emergencies, and speak with the head of the recent Israeli delegation to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Colonel Dr. Itzhak Kraise. International reporters and physicians had praised the sophistication of the Israeli Field Hospital in Haiti which was set up and fully functioning within hours of the IDF's arrival.
Participants will also meet various Israeli NGOs, including a visit to "Save A Child's Heart," an organization that provides free heart surgery and post-op care for impoverished children around the world, and "Lev Lashalom," which provides medical care for Palestinian children. They will also meet Palestinian patients who have been treated in Israeli hospitals, such as Ganna, a Palestinian girl who was injured during recent fighting, and treated by an Israeli soldier.
A series of panels will address related issues, such as the ethical dilemmas that arise when caring for enemy combatants, the most effective types of humanitarian aid based on Israel's experiences around the world, and the ways medical innovations can be used in international settings.
This project is a voluntary initiative of students who are part of the StandWithUs International Fellowship at Tel Aviv University. Their goal is to expose their international peers to Israel's humanitarian activities.
"The conference's motto is 'Learn Today. Save Tomorrow.' We hope these dedicated students will take home with them some know-how and ideas about how to develop humanitarian missions themselves, and we look forward to working with them in the future," said Michal Faktor, a medical student and one of the project's initiators.
The conference is organized by StandWithUs in cooperation with the Tel Aviv University Student Union, the Sackler Medical Faculty of Tel Aviv University, the Federation of Medical Students, and other organizations in Israel.