Board of Deputies of British Jews

Board of Deputies hosts Meeting between Leading Medical Professionals

On 4th July 2011 Ben Gurion University (BGU) President Professor Rivka Carmi, who chairs the Committee of Presidents of Israeli Universities, met with leading women from the British medical profession at a breakfast briefing arranged by Professor David Katz and Eleanor Platt QC under the auspices of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Professor Carmi told the group about her background in paediatrics and genetics, and how this led to her involvement in the pioneering work of BGU in the Negev in raising the standards of educational achievement, both among the waves of immigrants, and among the Bedouin. She explained how this is a key step towards addressing the health problems that are inherent in the south of Israel. She also spoke about the issues confronting women in medicine, and in academic medicine in particular.

Common issues facing women in medicine in both the UK and Israel were highlighted by the distinguished women physicians who were present: Professor Jane Dacre (Rheumatologist, Professor of Medical Education at UCL, and a member of the General Medical Council) Professor Farida Fortune (who has both dental and medical qualifications, is Dean at Barts and the London, and has international public health responsibilities) Professor Averil Mansfield (Emeritus Professor of Vascular Surgery, Imperial College and past President of the British Medical Association) and Dr Jean McEwan (Cardiologist, UCL and Council Member of the Medical Womens Federation).

Professor Fortune, who is a practising Muslim working in the East End of London, stressed the need for closer cooperation to breakdown misunderstandings between the communities. Professor Carmi agreed wholeheartedly and described the programmes run by BGU to train Jordanian Accident and Emergency physicians in Israel as an example of such cooperation.

Speaking after the event, Professor Katz, who chairs the UK Jewish Medical Association and is a member of the Board of Deputies’ Executive Committee said, “The issues arising from health inequalities are universal, and this meeting showed how both Professor Carmi and her colleagues, and my British colleagues, have a shared commitment to confront these issues, aiming to achieve genuine equality of opportunity. The challenge posed at the meeting was that one has to respect differences of race, faith, gender and nationality, while at the same time find common cause between those that are different. Furthermore Professor Carmi’s comment that in 2011 58% of Israeli medical graduates are women struck a chord amongst the British group: in both countries the delicate balancing act between a medical career and family is a common problem waiting to be addressed.”


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