Israel’s global coronavirus diplomacy efforts are bearing fruit

Israel is eager to join hands with the international community in order to effectively address the current global pandemic challenge, as well as the ones to come.

 A WOMAN takes a COVID-19 test at a hospital in New Delhi, earlier this month. When India suffered a severe COVID-19 wave last April, Israel sent planeloads of respirators and other medical aid. (photo credit: REUTERS/ANUSHREE FADNAVIS)
A WOMAN takes a COVID-19 test at a hospital in New Delhi, earlier this month. When India suffered a severe COVID-19 wave last April, Israel sent planeloads of respirators and other medical aid.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ANUSHREE FADNAVIS)

Two years into the pandemic, nations across the globe are still struggling to cope with the profound challenges that coronavirus poses. Israel is proud to be one of the countries on the front lines of responding to this unprecedented public health crisis.

Israel’s unique ability to deal with emergencies, improvise, and respond quickly and flexibly have all factored into its success in coping with the pandemic. With its rapid vaccine rollout last year, Israel was widely praised for delivering the world’s fastest vaccination campaign in the first half of 2021 and as the first country to give booster shots to the public, Israel has important lessons to share. Therefore, it makes sense that the world looks to Israel as a go-to expert on how to manage the pandemic. Moreover, a core Jewish value teaches we must help the needy during difficult times, as well as those in need of medical care. Consequently, it is natural that Israel has gone to great lengths to support its friends in the international community.

Israel has been heavily involved on the international coronavirus diplomacy scene, collaborating and exchanging information with countries around the world in order to save lives and help its partners cope with the public health crisis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been at the forefront of this effort, leading the push to donate masks, respirators, and other essential medical equipment to countless countries. When India was being ravaged by a severe wave of coronavirus in April of last year, Israel sent entire planeloads filled with respirators and medical aid. When Romania was grappling with a crisis in November, we sent a team of five of our top medical experts to share Israel’s experience in coping with similar such crises it had experienced in its hospitals. In Ghana, the Israeli embassy mobilized to produce and distribute masks to local medical teams. At the initiative of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Israel has also committed to donate over a million vaccine doses to African nations.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry Agency for International Cooperation (MASHAV) has several aid and cooperation campaigns currently active around the world. It is in the midst of its Better Together initiative, which has seen assistance packages containing hundreds of kilos worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) gear, syringes, medications, and more sent to medical staff in 52 countries across the globe, including Kenya, Peru and Bulgaria. MASHAV has brought medical staff and administrators from Tanzania, Rwanda, Guatemala, and many others to Israel for world-class seminars and lectures. Israel’s not-for-profit sector has similarly mobilized to assist the international community. IsraAID, one of Israel’s leading NGOs, just finished a six-month project in Eswatini, where an Israeli team set up and managed an operations center for distributing vaccines, training medical staff and more.

Exchanging information is key to managing the pandemic and the information that Israel has shared on its vaccine campaign and booster shots has undoubtedly saved lives. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the US government, praised Israel’s vaccine rollout and named Israel as the leading example of where you should want to be on coronavirus vaccines, and often refers people to how successful the Israelis have been in getting virtually every age group to receive booster shots. Senior Israeli Health Ministry officials have played a key role in the effort to exchange information and to this end the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have held joint discussions with Germany, South Korea, the United States and several state health commissioners on Israel’s insights and best practices on the latest outbreak, including its experience with administering vaccine boosters. As well, Australia shortened its waiting period for the booster shot and its mandatory quarantine period following information shared by Israel during a briefing with senior officials down under.

 Dr. Anthony Fauci (credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL VIA REUTERS) Dr. Anthony Fauci (credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL VIA REUTERS)

As well, Israel’s innovative digital healthcare and telehealth systems have served as an example for others. Israel has been widely credited with revolutionizing the way the world thinks about health and has positioned itself at the forefront of the effort to create a data-centric system of medicine. In fact, the Israeli national healthcare system’s already-sophisticated level of digitization was one aspect that helped make the country’s ambitious vaccination drive so successful. Moreover, the emergence of COVID-19 brought the topic of telemedicine to the fore of the global tech discourse and Israel has made it a priority to be a leader in this field. HealthIL is a non-for-profit digital health innovation ecosystem, a joint venture of the Israel Innovation Institute, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Digital Israel at the Ministry of Social Equality, and seeks to improve healthcare by supporting innovation in the field, bridging the gap between the tech community and the public health sector. By centralizing IIsrael’s global healthcare innovation ecosystem, HealthIL is bringing Israeli health tech to the world by collaborating across organizations, connecting demand and supply, and streamlining innovation change management.

Israel is eager to join hands with the international community in order to effectively address the current global pandemic challenge, as well as the ones to come. Ultimately, the world will only succeed in collectively overcoming this pandemic if we work together and cooperate. Moreover, health cooperation during the coronavirus crisis has served as an important bridge between nations and for peace. It is Israel’s hope that Omicron will be the last of the pandemic and we are looking forward to continuing to share our insights and experiences with the world in all spheres of crisis management and public health.

The writer is a COVID-19 project manager at the Foreign Ministry.