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UN Forum Sheds Lights On Quiet Ways Israelis, Palestinians And Americans Work Together To Save Lives

Nili Suhami

Hadassah, Brigham and Women’s and Victoria Augusta Hospitals Partner in Three-Way Emergency Medicine Project

(New York, NY -- September 26, 2005) -- In a powerful presentation at the UN today, a team of healthcare professionals from three major medical institutions that have been quietly working behind the scenes for four years reported on their efforts to save lives in Jerusalem. They spoke at a forum, entitled, “The Role of NGOs in Promoting Peace in the Middle East,” sponsored by the United States Mission to the United Nations, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy

The focus of this trilateral program “Peace Through Health: Partnership in Emergency Medicine,” is to develop collaboration among the three partners – Israeli, Palestinian and American – by training participants to upgrade their capabilities in Emergency Medicine, collaborating on reducing domestic violence, and establishing a joint Israeli-Palestinian toxicological consultation center. The project is sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Citizen Exchanges and aims to be a cultural and medical exchange among people working in the healthcare field.

Speaking at the forum, Dr. Jacob (Cobi) Assaf, Director of Emergency Medicine at the Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, one of the three principles of “Peace Through Health,” described it as a project that “cannot solve every problem related to peace, but is a very important way to bridge the distance between people in the Middle East conflict.”

Dr. Mark Davis, Director of the Institute of International Emergency Medicine and Health at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who initiated “Peace Through Health” during the darkest days of the intifada, said: “In order to empower politicians to make change, there has to be change on the ground first.”

The third partner, Dr. Tawfik Nasser, Chief Executive Officer of Augusta Victoria Hospital on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, explained: “We want stories of success for Palestinians, like a story of Palestinians, Israelis and Americans working together.

In this project, we have worked very hard to maintain that concept of equity and peace.”

Since its inception, “Peace Through Health” has trained close to 300 Israeli, Palestinian and American physicians and nurses in emergency care, and sparked a network of contacts across the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Curriculum development, teaching methods, goals, procedural review, checks, balances, budget, organization and implementation were all jointly hammered out in equal and open partnership. The ease and warmth with which the three principles work together was visible at the UN forum.

This panel discussion took place within the framework of the 2005 World Summit following the opening of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly, where progress towards fulfilling the commitments made under the Millennium Declaration, adopted by world leaders at the Millennium Summit of 2000, was reviewed. These pledges include internationally agreed upon health goals and the global partnership required for their achievement.

Hadassah, which holds Special Consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is deeply committed to furthering the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as this health program demonstrates.



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