The World Health Assembly is the annual meeting of the World Health Organization, held in Geneva, Switzerland, at which member-states' delegates determine policy, appoint directors and review programs and budgets.
Last year, WIZO delegates who attended the assembly, and particularly Dr. Hava Bugajer, President of WIZO Austria, were left challenged by what they perceived as unfair accusations lodged at Israel during the conference. As a response, they decided that for this year's WHA, they would organize an event focused on Israel's major contributions to world health initiatives and agendas.
On May 25th, NGO delegates of WIZO to the UN in Geneva and Austria held "The Day After: Post Trauma and Rehabilitation in Health Emergency Situations," an unofficial corollary conference to the 70th World Health Assembly, an in-depth presentation of Israel's emergency medical teams (EMT) and the various types of Israeli disaster aid provided internationally, including physical rehabilitation programs, mental trauma rehabilitation, and even "Dream Doctors," medical clowns who escort patients.
The great work of Israeli EMT teams has even been recognized by the WHO, which awarded the IDF field hospital its highest rating in 2016. Israeli EMT work in disasters around the world, from Haiti to Japan and Nepal, serve as models of long term post-disaster aid, not only immediate response, but long-term cooperation.
At the WIZO event, co-hosted by the Israeli and Japanese missions to the UN in Geneva, after opening remarks made by Ambassador Aviva Raz-Schechter, Esther Mor, President of World WIZO, presented the "Dr. Vera Weizmann Award for International Cooperation on Medical Relief at Emergency Situations" to Dr. Itzhak Siev-Ner, head of the Dept. of Orthopedic Rehabilitation at the Sheba Medical Center; Ms. Hamutal Ende, a therapeutic and medical clown working with the Dream Doctors Project since 2008; Prof. Shmuel Lahad PhD, an expert on post-disaster treatment who has served in places like Turkey, Japan and Sri Lanka and Ms. Yoko Arai, a special therapist for PTSD and a board member of the Japan EMDR Association, who together with Prof. Lahad, developed and implemented a psychosocial infrastructure used to train local therapists to provide help after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima disaster in Japan. Minister Kansuke Nagaoka, head of the political and social affairs division of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN, expressed appreciation for the Israeli teams and their work. The award is aptly named for one of the founders of WIZO and wife of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who was, by profession, a pediatrician.