Health Ministry disassociates from conference

Ministry, Maccabi Health demand organizers of alternative medicine conference remove their names as "partners."

Health Ministry 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Health Ministry 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Health Ministry, hospitals, Maccabi Health Services and other organizations and institutions have demanded that the organizers of a Jerusalem conference on “Integrative Medicine After the Age of 40” next month remove their names as “partners” and those of staffers as “members of the scientific committee.”
The conference, which took place first in Haifa in 2009 and then in Jerusalem’s International Convention Center in 2010, is due to meet at the convention center in the middle of May.
Avraham Fried, its past and present organizer with Dan Knassim/Paragon, admitted to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the conference website used the same “stationery” as the 2010 conference and thus had not removed the names of people and institutions that had resigned or said they had never been involved in the conference at all.
In addition, Fried conceded that he was wrong to use the term “partner” to describe institutions that had at least one staffer attending the conference (and got a discount in fees), because it implied that the institution had backed him, endorsed the conference or been a financial sponsor.
The website listed Yair Amikam, the Health Ministry’s deputy director-general for information and international relations, as a member of the scientific committee, and the ministry as a sponsor. However, Amikam said in response that the ministry “is not a partner to the conference in any way, not in financing, not in content or in any other way.”
He added that “over the last 15 years, [I] have never served as a member of a scientific committee of any conference, as, to the disappointment of my mother, [I] am not a doctor and not a scientist.”
Yet Fried insisted that Amikam had been a member of the scientific committee in 2010, but had the false impression that he had been a member of the “organizing committee,” which did not exist. Fried said Amikam was “not active in the second conference and is not involved in the third one.”
Although Maccabi Health Services’ Maccabi Tiv’i complementary medicine company “was claimed as a partner,” the health fund’s spokesman, Ido Hadari, stated that the use of Maccabi’s name had never been authorized for use by the organizers and the website and was not taking part in any way in the conference.
“We demand that our names be removed from the website or we will take legal action against Fried,” he said.
Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof.
Jonathan Halevy – who wrote a book five years ago investigating what scientific proof existed for various complementary medicine techniques and gave it a generally poor grade – was shocked to discover that his hospital was listed as a “partner.”
He, too, demanded that his institution be removed from the website.
He had spoken at a reception for the 2010 conference but, unhappy with it, was not involved with the May conference, he said.
Dr. Menachem Oberbaum, who is director of the Center for Integrative Complementary Medicine at Shaare Zedek and a practitioner of homeopathy, told The Post that the previous conference was commercially and not scientifically motivated and on a low level and predicted that attending the May conference would be “a waste of time.”
Asked to comment, Fried said that over 100 participants, more than half of them physicians, were coming from abroad. He could not yet say how many Israelis would attend. He added that some Israeli physicians, such as one from Herzog Hospital, will give lectures. Asked about the listing of Wolfson Medical Center director-general Dr.
Yitzhak Berlovich as a member of the scientific committee, he said, “That was from the last conference, but he hasn’t said he is leaving.”