Good News is Infectious

 I have now been compiling my weekly newsletter of positive news articles about Israel for over two-and-a half years.  When I started, I was often met with the comment “Is there any good news?”  These days, only Ha’aretz readers react that way.  In far more cases, people excitedly pass me their own sources of good news stories concerning the Jewish State.  This infectious state of affairs means that some weeks I have to omit stories because there is just too much good news for people to absorb.

I chose this week’s title because of four medical news items highlighting Israel’s work to eradicate the danger to life from bacterial and viral infections.  In the first, Israel marked International Week for Encouraging Vaccinations by announcing that the Prevnar vaccination program introduced in 2009 had reduced annual cases of pneumonia in Israel by 70%.  The rotavirus vaccine, added in 2010, has reduced gastrointestinal illness in children by 60%.  Meanwhile, a group of researchers from the Hadassah Medical Organization has located a gene that explains the reason for recurrent life threatening infections and bone marrow failure in children. 
In Tel Aviv, Reuth Medical Center announced that a six-month trial of Cupron’s anti-bacterial copper-embedded linens, resulted in a huge reduction in patient bacterial infections. Reuth will now be the world’s first hospital to fully deploy copper-embedded textiles in all its patient-related hospital textiles. And to prevent the spread of the super-bug MRSA, Israeli hospitals have imposed a strict set of procedures including isolation wards, dedicated staff, mandatory hand-washing and daily reports, which have cut the incidence of the deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria by over 70 per cent.
Diagnosing infectious diseases and any other ailments will become easier at Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Medical Center now that doctors are using the new smart-phone app from Israel’s Elad Systems.  They can retrieve the medical files of patients in real time to view medical tests, prescriptions and sensitivities as well as data on hospitalization, operations and clinic visits.  Israeli medical innovations such as these are responsible for reducing mortality rates and extending life expectancy both in the Jewish State and in the rest of the world.  So it is appropriate that Ben-Gurion University of the Negev recently hosted the eighth European Congress of Biogerontology - the study of longevity and the aging process - a relatively new science, invented by three Israelis some 40 years ago.
A positive attitude can also be infectious, as highlighted by Bedouin IDF officer Lieutenant colonel Magdi Mazarib, the highest ranked member of the elite Bedouin trackers who help protect the borders of the Jewish State.  Comparing life in the Jewish State to every other state in the Middle East, he stated proudly in Al Arabiya, “The state of Bedouin in Israel is better, as far as the respect we get, our progress, education. It’s a different league.”  Perhaps Qatar’s Prince Khalifa Al-Thani has caught his enthusiasm.  He announced his intention this November to make the first official visit to Israel of a member of the Qatari royal family in order to promote high-tech cooperation between Qatar and Israel.  Finally, with this item featuring Turkish TV commentator Ceylan Ozbudak and Muslim scholar Adnan Oktar, there’s almost an “epidemic” of support for Israel.
Not only an infection can be caught.  The perpetrators of the Boston marathon bombings were apprehended thanks to Israeli technology.  BriefCam enabled investigators to summarize an hour of surveillance video footage into only one minute and also zoomed in on people and objects that moved during the filming. The system then tracked the suspects from the beginning of the video.
The interest generated by Israeli technology is truly infectious and the innovative companies themselves often receive industry awards for catching the attention and imagination of their peers.  Israeli “smart-water” network and software management firm Whitewater was named a 2013 Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer at a ceremony in New York.  Whitewater was described as one of the “game-changing companies in the field of clean energy technology and innovation.”  Israeli agro-tech Sol-Chip has just won the Technical Development Award in the 2013 IDTechEx Energy Harvesting & Storage Europe Conference in Berlin.  Sol-Chip’s solar-powered sensors monitor the quality of the soil, irrigate automatically and even keep track of grazing cattle.


I’ll finish by transmitting two further examples of infectious enthusiasm.  It was certainly heartwarming to hear the many positive reasons for making Aliya from dozens of Americans immigrating to Israel with Nefesh b’Nefesh.  But I only hope that Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul-General in New York, can spread his message and make it go viral.  “A nation is not defined by its problems. We need to begin a conversation about what we bring to the table as a country.” He continued, “In today’s tech environment it is not about winning debates, but building relationships with people with influence and relevance, people who matter.”
So there you have it.  I hope you’ve now caught the bug!
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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