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Medicine and Public Health

 

MASHAV serves as a bridge between Israel's medical community and the developing world. Its programs in the field of emergency medicine, public health and infant and maternal healthcare are characterized by a long-term approach, focusing on the delivery of medical services, particularly in rural regions. Programs in these fields include assisting in the process of reforms being implemented on administrative and organizational levels, as well as concentration on human and institutional capacity building.

HIV/AIDS

According to WHO/UNAIDS data, AIDS is one of the world's leading causes of death, most notably in developing countries. There are indications of a sharp and continuing increase in new cases of AIDS, both in urban and rural areas. To address these dire circumstances, MASHAV offers activities to train professionals on topics including: Education for Sexual Health and Prevention of AIDS among Adolescents; Care and Support of Children Affected by HIV/AIDS; Training HIV Experts and Support Schemes; and more.

NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

Non-communicable diseases are a serious threat to global well-being. They present a growing economic and social challenge for many developed and developing countries. The challenges include how to address the links between non-communicable diseases and poverty, how to minimize the health and economic losses among the economically active population, and how to prepare for the pressures on health systems resulting from the growing numbers of people with noncommunicable diseases.

EMERGENCY AND DISASTER MEDICINE

Emergency Medicine and National Disaster Preparedness are disciplines which have been given priority on the agendas of the majority of both developed and developing countries.

MASHAV's expertise in these fields includes training activities both in Israel and abroad, and professional consultations, including the establishment of infrastructural pilot facilities to implement the acquired knowledge. Over the years MASHAV has set up trauma units in developing countries and implemented simulation projects in national and regional disaster management following professional training. MASHAV has also organized international training activities, seminars and professional meetings in the field.

HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

Israel is often called upon to dispatch aid to countries in the wake of earthquakes, floods, famine, and other natural disasters. MASHAV is the body responsible for coordinating Israel's official humanitarian assistance program. In these cases, MASHAV is able to use its vast experience in crisis response in order to rapidly dispatch needed supplies, medicines, and medical assistance to countries in crisis.

For more than 50 years MASHAV has been conducting blindness prevention and eye-care missions in partner countries. These missions, designed to treat patients suffering from various degrees of blindness and ocular disease, are undertaken by teams of Israeli ophthalmologists and operate on the premises of local hospitals or clinics.

Hundreds of surgical procedures are performed by the visiting Israeli teams which work together with local staff, restoring sight to many of the patients. Israeli ophthalmologists also train the local personnel, and provide equipment.

Brief descriptions of some of MASHAV's professional programs in the field:

DEVELOPING AND ORGANIZING A TRAUMA SYSTEM

Each year, thousands of people around the world die from natural disasters and millions more are injured. Apart from the human suffering, the financial damages incurred by natural catastrophes are estimated at billions of dollars annually. Governments and relief organizations need to learn to operate and respond quickly and efficiently to these disasters. MASHAV designed in cooperation with one of Israel's leading medical centers a professional capacity building program geared specifically subject for nurses and physicians. Upon completion of the program, participants are required to present a model for the establishment of a trauma system in their own countries.

ESTABLISHING MOTHER AND CHILD WELL-BEING CENTERS - "TIPAT CHALAV"

For more than 70 years Israel's Ministry of Health has provided highly effective antenatal and well-being infant services. These services have succeeded in diminishing infant mortality and maternal morbidity and mortality; provided immunization coverage; and has been proven to be an effective tool for health education for mothers. The "Tipat Chalav" ("Drop of Milk") clinics are primarily staffed by public health nurses, and a small number of physicians. The clinics in each community have a long lasting relationship and commitment to their patients, and serve as a unique model of a community health service that is both broad and specific as it targets local needs while addressing national priorities.

The clinics are supported and monitored by a system of district and regional health offices acting as the statutory authority on which the legal aspects of the clinics are based. "Tipat Chalav" clinics are oriented toward social equality and equity in health, as they are specifically geared to address the needs of under-served populations.

This model presents unique qualities that could be replicated and adapted to other national settings: Universal, widely available to all segments of society (regardless of income); Widely accessible with solid infrastructure; Employment of highly competent nursing and medical personnel; Focus on health promotion, with specific attention to underserved populations; Continuity of service from birth to adulthood; Culturally sensitive service provision; Rapidly responsive to emergencies and unforeseen situations such as communicable disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism, and natural disasters, while utilizing available local health personnel.

WATER, SANITATION, AND HEALTH

According to the World Water Development Report, problems of poverty are inextricably linked with those of water - its availability, proximity, quantity and quality. Improving the access of poor people to potable water has the potential to make a major contribution towards poverty eradication and the improvement of the quality of life. The combination of safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities is a precondition for health and success in the fight against poverty, hunger, child deaths and gender inequality. In adopting the Millennium Development Goals, the countries of the world pledged to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Today's challenges are various and contradictory- Improving water quality to supply a growing population, and minimizing negative environmental impacts in order to limit water hazards for both humans and animals. MASHAV's program aims to train participants in various aspects of water quality, present innovations in water treatment, examine links between wastewater and drinking water including water treatment and hazards, and discuss implementing legislation on water quality and water sampling.

SEXUAL HEALTH AND AIDS PREVENTION AMONG ADOLESCENTS

Research indicates that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are at the greatest risk of contracting AIDS. MASHAV's educational approach to Sexual Health and AIDS Prevention among Adolescents incorporates effective and innovative tools for HIV prevention and for strengthening the self-esteem, health, and awareness of youth (especially females), thus setting the foundations for their own personal empowerment. The objective of the professional program is to generate personal commitment among participants to promote adolescent sexual health as a means of curtailing the spread of AIDS in their countries, and encouraging educational programs based on the educational model developed in Israel.

PUBLIC HEALTH AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

This comprehensive program focuses on the management of critical public health issues in disasters and emergencies, including natural and technological disasters, mass casualties, and terrorist attacks. It focuses on logistical and managerial issues during and after an event, introducing the concept of risk management as a framework (the overall framework being public safety) for policy making, emergency planning, and mass casualty management. Special emphasis is put on emergency preparedness programs as a link between emergency managers, development planners and field practitioners. The objective is to foster health and security by enhancing health systems capacities to prepare for and respond to a crisis - with inter-sectoral dimensions especially highlighted.

ESTABLISHING MOTHER AND BABY NEO-NATAL UNITS

MASHAV together with the Joint Jewish Distribution Committee( JDC), and with the assistance of the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI) joined together to assist the city of Kumasi, Ghana, in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), through the transfer of knowledge and technology supported by model projects. To address the unacceptably high rate of neonatal mortality, MASHAV constructed, refurbished and equipped two new Mother and Baby Units (MBU) in Kumasi hospitals, in order to improve the care for neonates, and ultimately, reduce neonatal mortality.

MASHAV also funded a three month Train of Trainers course on neonatal nursing for two doctors and two nurses in Israel. As part of the project, MASHAV has also conducted and funded on-site courses targeted at strengthening the capacity of health service providers to provide effective and efficient care in many different areas, including trauma and medical emergencies, neonatal nursing, nutrition care, and support for persons infected with HIV/AIDS. The professional courses have also empowered health teams to plan and implement programs aimed at the prevention of non-communicable diseases that are on the rise.

All professional programs and models can be adapted to regional, national and local development strategies, Additional details are readily available upon request.