Executive Chair’s Report to Annual General Meeting, 16th July 2014
Since the last Annual General Meeting, the Association has been involved in a wide range of activities in pursuit of our charitable aims:
All medical schools are notified at the start of the academic year about the elective scholarship scheme, and students actively involved in the affairs of the Association are also very aware of the scheme. Fourteen elective bursaries were awarded (August 2013 – July 2014) to medical students. The tradition of presentations by medical students on their return to the UK has been continued, and Daniel Swerdlow has done so during the year. Medical schools are also notified by the Association about Jewish festivals in order to avoid timetable clashes, particularly with examinations. Two Israeli medical students are planning an elective later in 2013. The local medical student groups have been active in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Nottingham. Several Association members have participated in the JUMP-ORT scheme to provide mentoring for Jewish sixth formers interested in medical careers.
The Presidential Address was delivered by Prof Daniel Hochauser and was entitled “Jews and Cancer”. Prof Hochhauser provided an erudite and accessible exposition of how cancer research has advanced towards the development of drugs that target key molecules implicated in tumour growth. At the same time he reflected on the important contribution that Jews had made to these developments, and on the significance of the genetic inheritance of Jews, with implications not only for cancer incidence but also for therapy.
Dr Mohammed Al-Hadid spoke to the Association about his achievements in negotiating the admission of Magen David Adom to the International Red Cross, as an example of a positive co-operative initiative, despite much criticism and risk. Similarly he helped found, promote and develop the Masters course in Emergency Medicine at Ben Gurion University. He described the present Jordanian crisis – lacking the resources of other Middle Eastern countries, but confronted with a complex humanitarian crisis. The open border with Syria has resulted in an influx of ~600,000 refugees. These join a similar number of Syrians already living in Jordan, large cohorts of Palestinians and Egyptians, and migrant workers – today there are 6 million Jordanians and most probably a very similar number of refugees in the country. This situation creates cultural, educational, health and security problems, and he and his colleagues are working to tackle them.
Nine Israeli colorectal surgeons visited the UK on the annual programme organised by Prof Alex Deutsch and supported by the Israel and British Commonwealth Association John Firman Fund. The surgeons are guests of Mr Richard Cohen (University College London Hospital), Mr Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (Kings College Hospital) and Mr Andrew Williams (St Thomas’s Hospital), and will be attend a course at Basingstoke Hospital. After the reception Prof Irving Taylor led a discussion of clinical cases from Israel and from UCLH which demonstrated different aspects of the investigation and management of patients presenting with large bowel obstruction and massive large bowel haemorrhage
The Annual Dinner was held on 1st April 2014 and was attended by almost 200 doctors and medical students. The guest speaker was Professor Sir Michael Stratton FRS who is Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. In his talk Prof Stratton reflected on the three last three decades of genetic research: from 1990-2000 was the period of the Human Genome Project; from 2001-10 was the period when disease association linkages were identified; and since 2011 we have entered the period when costs of genome sequencing are falling to such an extent that personal sequences are becoming more easily available, which poses interesting ethical problems, but also offers opportunities for more focussed treatment options. The vote of thanks to Prof Stratton was proposed by Dr Jo Franks, the toast to the Association was proposed by Dr Nicola Rosenfelder, Dr Michael Denman spoke about the UK – Rambam Hospital Loewi meeting which took place in March 2014 and Dr Mervyn Jaswon spoke about his experiences teaching paediatrics at the new Bar-Ilan Medical School based in Tzfat.
Prof David Salisbury, who was previously Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health, and responsible for the national immunisation programme; and who now works on the WHO Global Programme for Vaccines spoke to a meeting on the theme of “An Immunisation Update”, describing how the influenza immunisation programme has evolved and touching on some of the other immunisation campaigns that have succeeded.
Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, visited Israeli universities, medical schools, research institutes and hospitals as Henry Cohen Visiting Professor in June 2014. This visit was co-funded by the Jewish Medical Association, Hadassah UK and the British Friends of the Hebrew University. He was accompanied by Lady Borysiewicz (Dr Gwenllian Borysiewicz), who is a general practitioner). They started their visit in Jerusalem with a tour of the Old City and a reception for the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University where they met with the Univeristy President, Prof Ben Sasson. The following morning Prof Jonathan Halevy hosted them at Shaarei Zedek Hospital and explained to them how the Israeli healthcare system is run. Their next visit was to the Hebrew University – Hadasah Ein Karem campus where the Dean of the Medical School, Prof Lichtstein, had arranged for them to meet senior staff, and to hear about research topics from some of the younger faculty. Prof Naparstek, who is in charge of academic activities at Hadassah, spoke to them about clinical research. The following day started with a visit to the Weizmann Institute where they were met by the Director, Prof Zajfman, and heard about recent research advances in biomedicine. This was followed by a visit to Ben Gurion University where the Rector, Prof Zvi Hacohen, told them about the University before hearing research presentations introduced by Prof Shoshan – Barmatz. On Tuesday the first visit was the Technion where they met with the President, Prof Lavie and colleagues, and this was followed by a tour of the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya and a meeting with the Director, Dr Barhoum. En route back to Tel Aviv there was time for a brief visit to Caesarea (to see the antiquities) before going to a dinner in their honour hosted by the UK Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould. The newly appointed Director – General of the Ministry of Health, Prof Afek; the head of the Israeli Medical Association, Dr Eidelman; and Prof Shimon Glick were amongst those present. The final visit was to Tel Aviv University where they met with Prof Aron Shai, and with Prof Menachem Fisch, who has a linked porgramme with Cambrdige. and the head of the Ambassador Gould also hosted a lunch the following day- amongst those present were Prof Avi Ysiraeli (Chief Scientist, Ministry of Health); Rabbi Prof Hershkowitz (President of Bar Ilan University); Prof Lapidot (on behalf of the Israeli Academy of Sciences); and Prof Yuval Dor from the Hebrew University, who has a joint Birax project with Prof Cooke in Cambridge.
The Association website continues to be handled by Dr Simon Woldman. Dr Simon Nadel represents the Association at the Board of Deputies.
The activities of the Association would not be possible without the stalwart support and efforts of our Financial Officer, Mrs Helene Gordon, and our Administrator, Mrs Hilary Cane.
Jewish Medical Association (UK) members have continued to provide expert advice to the Board of Deputies and other Jewish organisations about professional issues. This has included the preparation of material outlining the issues of health and social care relevant to the Jewish community which should be raised with Parliamentary candidates. Unfortunately there has been a recent recrudescence of criticism of the Association itself, and of the links between British and Israeli medicine. In contrast, however, there have been many productive interfaith discussions, and there are plans for these to be extended during 2014-5.