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Palestinian-Israeli Conference on Diabetes

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Palestinian-Israeli Conference on Diabetes held in Tul Karem

On Friday, 6 August 2004, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel organized a conference on diabetes in Tul Karem, as part of its Specialist Clinic project. The Palestinian Medical Association in Tul Karem hosted the meeting. Some 120 Palestinian physicians attended the conference, which included lectures and speeches by both Israelis and Palestinians.

The event began with speeches by the governor of Tul Karem, the Palestinian organizers and Prof. Zvi Bentwich who sits on the Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. Thereafter, the lectures on diabetes began. Prof. Shlomo Melamed, also a board member, lectured on Diabetic Retinopathy (retinal disease caused by diabetes); Dr. Eldad Kish spoke about treatment for the diabetic; Prof. Reuven Wiskoper spoke about preventative treatment for both diabetes and obesity; Dr. Azam Morad lectured on pregnancy and diabetes; Prof. Bentwich spoke about IDDM (type 1 diabetes).

Following the lectures an open discussion took place, after which the head of the Palestinian Medical Association in Tul Karem spoke for a few moments. Before departing the Israeli visitors were served a meal by the hosts. During the meal the Palestinian and Israeli physicians were able to conduct uninhibited conversations- something many felt was a very important part of the day.

"We left the meeting in a state of euphoria and a great sense of satisfaction, since the success was beyond any of our expectations", said Prof. Bentwich. This, in spite of the many obstacles that stood in the way: checkpoints, roadblocks, and an overall disconnection between the Israeli and Palestinian societies, especially over the past several years of violence. In light of the success of this first attempt, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel intends to continue with the project and conduct more events of this type in other Palestinian cities and towns. "It is obvious to us that this is the right step, and we must continue and expand it to other places and in additional formats", explained Prof. Bentwich. He then spoke of the need to engage more physicians and have more people- both Palestinians and Israelis- volunteer and partake in this activity.

The project has obvious medical goals that it is determined to meet. In addition, there is also hope that events like this will help bridge the gap between Palestinians and Israelis and allow for positive contact between the two societies.

ENDS

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