Health Diplomacy: Peace Through Health
Peace through Health: The Palestine/Israel Health Initiative
Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress
Director: Susan Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A.
Health can serve as a bridge to peace. Countries cannot achieve political stability or flourish economically with unhealthy people. Over the past decade, however, restrictions on mobility and a tense political climate have rendered cooperative “peace through health” programs between Palestinian and Israeli health experts quite challenging. Despite this, innovative and committed Palestinian and Israeli professionals have continued to work together in the fields of public health and medicine. Their cooperative work builds trust and reconciliation when patients receive lifesaving treatments; when health systems are built; when diseases and epidemics are monitored and prevented; when health information is shared; when collaborative research is undertaken; and when new generations of professionals are trained together.
During the first phase of its work, the Palestine/Israel Health Initiative (PIHI) of the Center (supported by a grant from USAID), identified and mapped more than 40 cooperative health and scientific projects between Palestinians and Israelis that are operating in the region, many of which were unaware of other organizations’ existence and mission. Faced with significant physical barriers to intergroup peace efforts in the area, some organizations in other sectors of development—such as youth education—have turned to the Internet and to web social networking tools to facilitate cooperation across divides. Currently, these tools are underutilized in the health sector, yet hold the promise to promote peaceful and productive cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli professionals.
Under the leadership, of Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Former US Assistant Surgeon General, CSPC’s Health and Medicine Program convened a major conference and series of meetings in the area bringing together leading scientists and health care professionals from Palestine and Israel.to share perspectives as well as develop future directions for initiatives The project also harnessed the power of information technology (IT) to bring together Palestinians and Israelis with the goal of advancing regional health. PIHI has developed a “health e-Commons,” a health professional networking website that has linked experts across the region and also is planning a health information website. The project has produced a brochure of its activities and a report of recommendations to advance health and cooperative programs as a bridge for peace.
The common quest for good health knows no borders. Crossing societies, politics and cultures, the Palestine/Israel Health Initiative (PIHI), a central component of the Advancing Trust and Reconciliation among Palestinians and Israelis initiative, (a project of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) supported by USAID), explored the potential of using health as a bridge to peace.
The goal of CSPC’s Palestine/Israel Health Initiative has been to foster collaboration and facilitate interaction between health and medical experts in Palestine and Israel to improve the health of people in the region as well as to promote increased cooperation and understanding. The report was prepared by Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, Director of CSPC’s Health and Medicine Program and Stephanie Safdi, M.Phil., Project Manager.
OPEDS AND ARTICLES:
Health Diplomacy: Rx for Peace by Susan Blumenthal, MD and Elise Schlissel, Washington Times, August 26, 2007
Health in Haiti: Lessons to Learn for National Public Health Week 2010 by Susan Blumenthal, MD et al, Huffington Post, April 6, 2010
Dying for Drink of Clean Water by Susan Blumenthal, MD and Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Washington Post, Sept. 20, 2005
World AIDS Day: Women’s Rights and AIDS by Susan Blumenthal, MD and Melissa Shive, Huffington Post, December 1, 2009
H1N1 Swine Flu Rx by Susan Blumenthal, MD et al, Washington Times, May 11, 2008
World AIDS Day 2007: Electing to Fight Against HIV/AIDS by Susan Blumenthal, MD and Melissa Shive, Huffington Post, Nov. 30, 2007
World AIDS Day, 2006: 25 Years of AIDS, 25 Million Reasons to Take Action by Susan Blumenthal, MD and Jennifer Cai, Huffington Post, Dec 1, 2006
Exploring Global Health Through the Power of Film by Susan Blumenthal, MD, Huffington Post, October 1, 2006
A New Year’s Resolution: A Child Survival Revolution by Susan Blumenthal, MD, Huffington Post, Dec 30, 2005
The Public Health Impact of Water by Susan Blumenthal, MD and Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Huffington Post, December 22, 2005
RECENT GLOBAL HEALTH CONFERENCES:
Italy-US Global Health Conference on the Science of Longevity and Healthy Aging moderated by Susan Blumenthal, MD, Embassy of Italy, Washington DC, October 12, 2010
First AILA International Award presented to Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, Embassy of Italy, June 19, 2010
Science Cafe on Critical Issues in Women’s Health moderated by Susan Blumenthal, MD, Embassy of Sweden, May 7, 2010, Washington DC
Mentor Foundation International Gala to Prevent Substance Abuse in Youth in the Presence of Queen Silvia — Susan Blumenthal, MD, Dinner Chair
Pandemic Flu: Promoting International Collaboration chaired by Susan Blumenthal, MD, Chair, Global Health Program, Meridian International Center, November 9, 2009
Health Diplomacy: The Palestinian-Israeli Health Initiative Conference chaired by Susan Blumenthal, MD, Director, Jerusalem, April, 2008.