Thirty physicians, nurses and graduate nursing students from the West Bank visited Haifa's Rambam Medical Center this week for a day-long seminar on cancer treatment. The Palestinian health professionals - from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron and other West Bank cities - came to learn about new techniques for treating children's oncological diseases.
Prof. Miriam Ben-Arush, head of oncological hematology at the medical center's Meyer Children's Hospital, noted that medical care for sick children in Palestinian Authority hospitals is at a considerably lower level than in Israel. "For this reason, the connection between medical centers in Israel and the PA is important," she said, adding that "we must offer them the medical tools and enrich them with knowledge they can apply in hospitals there."
The delegation attended lectures on pediatric cancer treatments, thalassemia and other genetic diseases more prevalent among Arabs, bone marrow transplants for children, supportive treatment and psychological perspectives on coping with pediatric cancer.
Yazed Falah, who oversees the coordination between the PA and Rambam, said that the seminar was part of an ongoing program. "We initiate activities and seminars like this all the time because we are obligated, on a human level, to help sick people regardless of politics."
Dr. Sumia Saij, an instructor at Al-Kuds University in Tubas, described the sad reality in many PA hospitals. "In many cases, we don't have the qualifications, the budget or the tools to give medical care to patients who arrive at the hospital. Seminars like this allow us to return to our hospitals with the knowledge we have received here. This helps reduce the gap between hospitals in the PA and the more advanced facilities in Israel."
PA patients arrive every day for care at Rambam, and many come on a permanent basis for ongoing treatments. Among them are some 50 children who arrive every week with permits from the security authorities to get oncological and hematological treatments.