Natural disasters, unfortunately, wait for no one. Whether a country is prepared or not, Mother Nature destroys at will.
No organization realizes this more than Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. As such, Israel’s largest hospital routinely dispatches medical personnel to countries most in need of humanitarian relief. Because of this life-saving work, The Jerusalem Post presented the hospital with its Humanitarian Contribution Award at its Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday.
“I am an orthopedist in Israel, but half of my heart has always been in disasters and humanitarian aid,” said Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, the director of the new Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response established in Sheba for its 70th anniversary, when accepting the award on the hospital’s behalf.
“As an orthopedist, I know a bone is a bone. A broken bone is a broken bone and it doesn’t make a difference if it’s in India or Bnei Barak.”
During his remarks, Bar-On showed images of a hospital in Israel and compared them to medical centers around the world, offering devastating proof that many nations lack basic medical needs, especially in the wake of a humanitarian disaster.
“Nowhere is this [lack of the necessary medical equipment] more pronounced than in a place where there is a disaster either made by God or man. Israel, as part of the humanitarian world, responds,” he said.
“There are many organizations doing great work. But the official arm is the IDF medical corps, in which I have the honor of serving,” Bar-On said.
The new humanitarian center is part of the vision of the hospital’s founder, Chaim Sheba, and its current director Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, for exporting Israel’s cutting-edge medical know-how to places in need. From assisting victims of the Congolese civil war in the 1960s, to establishing a field hospital in Haiti after their devastating 2010 earth quake, Tel Hashomer has made helping people in times of crisis a priority.
And echoing the what-goes-around-comes-around mantra, Bar-On believes this good work is not purely altruistic. “We believe this way of life means that doing good makes us better doctors, nurses and human beings here in Israel,” he said.