(photo credit: REUTERS)
An 18-member delegation of physicians and researchers from 10 African countries has arrived to participate in a seminar on HIV and AIDS at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, carried out with the cooperation of UNAIDS. In its 15th year, the seminar has also produced hundreds of graduates throughout Africa, South America and the Far East, which has touched many lives and created a humanitarian and diplomatic bridge between friends around the globe and Israel.
The current participants are from Uganda, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Angola and Kenya.
Typically, the delegates coming for the course at Rambam are senior people and policymakers in the field of health in their home countries. During the course, delegates learn about developments and innovations in the field of AIDS, lab techniques, management, treatment, medications, treatment adherence, high-risk groups and epidemiological data on HIV/AIDS around the world.
Their stay at Rambam was the initiative of the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with countries that maintain cooperation with Israel, both foreign relations and providing assistance on various issues. One of the leading areas in which Israel gives assistance, especially medicine,, is AIDS medicine.
According to Dr. Margalit Lorber, director of Rambam’s autoimmune diseases unit and head of the scientific program of the course, it is an important global initiative. “The program has contributed to building joint programs between Israel and health systems in various developing nations,” she said.
“During the 15 years the program existed, we have done important work and helped change the perception and treatment of AIDS abroad.
There is no doubt that the seminar has contributed to improving the quality of life for many people infected with HIV, prevented the birth of babies infected with HIV from their mothers and promoted good medicine in many developing countries.”
In addition, said Lorber, participants become goodwill ambassadors and friends of Israel. “The relationship with the graduates does not end when the course is over,” she explained. “Many of them continue to stand with us. keep in touch, ask and consult and develop other initiatives together with us.”
Sometimes the relationship between the graduates and Rambam extend beyond AIDS and involves other matters that save lives. When some of Rambam’s staff went to Nepal as part of a Rotary rescue mission after the earthquake, said Lorber, they sought contacts in Nepal and approached her. “I connected them with two Nepalese doctors who took a course at Rambam about a year ago, and this was very helpful in referring delegation members to reach distant regions that were severely damaged, which was very helpful in reaching places that had not received any other help.”
Meanwhile, leading medical professionals and research scientists, healthcare policy makers, investors and philanthropic supporters will arrive at Rambam’s campus on June 7 for its annual, three-day summit. This year’s theme is “From Vision to Reality” and will showcase the latest medical innovations and give host to leaders in medicine.
Former president Shimon Peres and emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Lord Jonathan Sacks will receive the summit’s highest honor – the 2015 Rambam Award – for their contributions to Israel and the Jewish people. Prof. Mary- Claire King – a world leader in human genetics and cancer at the University of Washington who identified a BRCA breast cancer mutation, demonstrated that humans and chimpanzees are 99 percent genetically identical and applied genomic sequencing to identify victims of human rights abuses – will receive the Rambam Award for her pioneering discoveries.
The event will include the inauguration of the Joseph Fishman Oncology Center, which will be the most advanced cancer treatment center in northern Israel and offer comprehensive, compassionate and innovative treatment and research.
Rambam director-general Prof. Rafael Beyar said: “We are thrilled to have Prof. King at Rambam for our summit. Her research discoveries have literally saved the lives of many thousands of people and revolutionized our understanding of the genetics of human health and disease. She is a hero and we are honored to host her.”