Sixty medical students from around the world visited IDF base Bahad 10 at Tzrifin Tuesday and learned about humanitarian medicine, at the first Humanitarian Medicine Conference (HMC). The event was organized by pro-Israel advocacy group Stand With Us.
The initiative for the HMC came from 20 students from Tel Aviv University who are members of the StandWithUs Fellowship, a leadership program in public diplomacy run by the StandWithUs International Organization.
Following the earthquake in Haiti and the worldwide acclaim for the emergency delegation from Israel there, the students recruited the IDF and leading aid organizations in Israel for a joint project devoted to humanitarian medical aid. The goal of the project is to share rich Israeli knowledge with as many students in the field as possible.
The participants viewed a treatment drill for a grand-scale disaster and trained in providing medical treatment for disaster victims.
They met with Col. Dr. Itzik Kreiss, who headed the famous Israeli delegation to Haiti, who presented the ways to establish a field hospital in tragedy-stricken humanitarian crises. "Medicine is a real bridge between individuals," said Dr. Kreiss. "When we see Iranians, Lebanese, Moroccans, and Indonesians working together with Israel in the same field, we understand that it is not just a cliché."
Treating PA Arabs
Monday the students visited the "Lev LeShalom" project at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where Israeli doctors perform heart surgery on Palestinian Authority (PA) children. The students had the opportunity to meet and speak to some of the patients in the Children's Cardiology Department and received explanations from senior cardiologists about caring for children. They were given a tour of the Childrens' Intensive Care unit, and spoke to one of the PA doctors who is being trained by the project's experts.
Later on in the day the students met Jannah, an Arab girl who was injured in a car accident that was caused by a PA stone-thrower. They also met regiment commander Erez Kachel who saved the girl's life and evacuated her to Alyn Hospital. The group went on to meet with representatives from Magen David Adom, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, and learned how the three organizations work hand-in-hand in Jerusalem.
Wednesday the students are scheduled to tour the Save a Child's Heart project in the Wolfson Hospital, in which Israeli cardiologists operate on children with heart conditions from all over the world.
The HMC conference began on Sunday, July 25th. "The ultimate aspiration of the students in creating this event is to create a common denominator between students from all around the world in order to improve the accessibility to humanitarian medical knowledge," said Itay Asael, the project head coordinator.
Participants included the Chairman of the Medical Student Union of the United States, and students from Nigeria, Nepal, El Salvador, and elsewhere.
Israeli initiatives to treat PA patients occasionally create moral paradoxes. For instance, it was recently discovered that a terrorist who recently murdered an Israeli policeman carried out his crime shortly after visiting a Jerusalem hospital where his daughter received eye treatment, in an incongruous twist on the Biblical rule regarding an "eye for an eye."