Arab Doctors Hold 27th Congress in Madrid

Arab doctors Hold 27th Congress in Madrid

Click here to read in Spanish / المؤتمر الأول لإتحاد الأطباء العرب في مدريد ينهي أعماله بنجاح
قفشات من داخل قاعة مؤتمر إتحاد الأطباء العرب في إسبانيا / مع الصحافة والصحفيين في مؤتمر الأطباء العرب

The Arab Doctors Association in Europe (ARABMED) held it’s 27th Congress in Madrid last 28 to 30 October 2011. The congress was organized in cooperation with the Spanish Traffic Medicine Association (SEMT) and was held under the auspices of the Spanish Minister of Health, Ms. Leire Pajín. This was also the first time that the ARABMED held its yearly conference in Spain.

The Congress was organized this year by the Spanish Chapter of ARABMED headed by Dr. Bahjat Assaf, in cooperation with the head of ARABMED Europe, Dr. Faidi Omar Mahmoud and with the help of  Dr. Tammam Kelani, head of the Arab Medicals and Pharmacists in Austria, Dr. Ghassan El-Agha of ARABMED Ireland, Prof. Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzales Luque of SEMT and the Arabian-German Medical Alumni Network, also represented by Dr. Faidi Omar Mahmoud.

Among the attendants were also Dra. Vicenta Lizarbe representing Minister of Health Leire Pajín, Dr. Hassine Bouzid, Ambassador of the League of Arab States Mission and Permanent Observer to UNESCO in Paris, Prof. Dr. Alfred Holl, Information Systems Professor at the University of Applied Sciences Nuremberg in Germany, from Gaza came Dr. Mohammad and Dr. Abed Al-Razeq Salame, Dr. Sami and Dr. Mohammad Al-Agha from Gaza as well as many pharmacists and practitioners of medicine from other European and Arab countries, among them Germany, Poland, Paris, Austria, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan and Saudi-Arabia.

From left: Dr. Faidi Omar Mahmoud, Dr. Bahjat Assaf, Dr. Tammam Kelani, Prof. Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzales Luque, Dr. Ghassan El-Agha

The congress was aimed at general and specialist practitioners of medicine, at nursing professionals, students and other health professionals interested in the exchange of experiences between Europe and the Arab world in different sectors of health with an interest in the prevention of ailments and health promotion. The congress highlighted medical themes and issues by holding during various sessions which reviewed the latest advances in Cardiology, Ophthalmology, metabolic diseases and surgery, as well as aspects of injury prevention, specially in the area of Traffic Medicine.

Another purpose of the conference was to offer a forum for intercultural dialog related to science, as well as a platform for networking and to exchange experiences. A theme emphasized in this years meeting was the relation between traffic accidents and health, and the comparison of traffic accident consequences between Arab and European countries. There were also cultural speeches which were interesting to non-doctors, one about Arab medicine in Andalusia and its contributions to the development of European medicine, and another one about St. Luke of the New Testament, one of the founders of Christianity, who was a Syrian Arab, and the worship of his remains in Italy and Prague, and how they arrived there.

Syrian Ambassador Hossam El-Din Ala’a seen unhappy because of call to mourn the martyrs of the Arab revolutions

The attendants to the Congress were surprised by the presence of Mr. Hossam El-Din Ala’a, Ambassador of Syria to Spain during the first and the second days of sessions. According to Spanish newspapers published on October 28 2011, the day of opening the medical Congress, a statement had been issued by the Spanish Foreign Ministry, according to which Ambassador Ala’a had been cited by the Spanish Foreign Ministry and warned, together with his staff working at the Embassy, because of acts of harassment and intimidation against members of the Syrian opposition living in Spain.

The ministry’s communiqué states that The Syrian ambassador was warned that the Government will not hesitate to adopt appropriate measures in the face of actions committed on national territory by staff with diplomatic or official status that contravene the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961”. Read the full statement in Spanish.

On the left, the Ambassador of Syria reads in a book about Damascus while the Doctors mourn the martyrs of the Arab revolutions

According to what other Congress participants told me on its second day, they left their seat and moved elsewhere after the Ambassador of Syria sat next to them in the same row. I used the time before my flight to explore Madrid, and on Paseo del Prado, not far away from the hotel were the ARABMED Congress was held, I happened upon a group of Syrian opposition activists who were demonstrating against the Syrian dictatorship. I spoke to some of them and they told me that if they had known that the Ambassador was taking part in the congress, they “would have demonstrated before the hotel until he fled the location”.

Receiving honor certificates

The presence of the Syrian Ambassador was aggravated by the fact that persons suspected of links to the Syrian intelligence services distributed a “questionnaire” among the participants soliciting information of a nature which is interesting only to Intel services and has no scientific or academic relevance. Most participants disregarded the paper as non-scientific, but it heightened disquiet among participants from Syria, who could not refuse to answer as this could affect family members living in Syria. One so affected person who is the citizen of a European country and works as a doctor at a prestigious university, broke out in tears. I was not happy to see this successful and prestigious medical congress misused for political purposes.

I was sad to see that no Spanish media were present at this important medical Congress because they were not invited. The doctors in ARABMED are highly regarded in the countries where they practice medicine, and they have always included doctors from various Arab countries in their various events, thus assuring an exchange of practical and theoretical knowledge between professionals across cultures. The contribution to medicine of ARABMED, a private initiative of the doctors involved is important and deserves to be known beyond the confines of medicine or the Arab communities in European countries.

1 comment to Arab Doctors Hold 27th Congress in Madrid

  • rotorman

    No doubt Israel will view these activities as an “existential threat” and do its best to prevent further science based gattherings of Arabs in future.

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