Austrian Health Minister Alois Stöger held yesterday 4 July a musical reception for the attendees of the “WHO European Ministerial Conference on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020 conference” at the beautiful Museum of the Natural History. Among the guests of the Minister Stöger were over 25 ministers, diplomats, experts, and representatives of international organizations, civil society and NGOs from around the world.
At the start of the ceremony, Minister Stöger and Ms. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Director of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen, delivered briefs in which they welcomed the guests and highlighted the importance of the conference at hand, which addresses nutrition and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the context of Health 2020 and focuses on how policy making can support implementation together with the commitments outlined in the Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable diseases.
Ms. Jakab called two professors to go to the platform speeches, Univ. Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Elmadfa and Prof. W. Philip James. She said without Dr. Elmadfa and Prof. James, there would have been no conference. She introduced them to the audience and gave them gifts in the presence of minister Stöger
During the event I met Prof. Dr. Elmadfa, former director of the Institute of Nutrition in Vienna, Austria and President of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS).
A short discussion with him revealed him as a Palestinian and a genius personality who by his own work and intellectual merits managed became a recognized partner of international institutions, and now holds the position of University Professor and president of an institute. I felt deeply honoured and proud to meet this fellow Palestinian who has found his way and place in his new homeland.
Dr. Elmadfa is a Palestinian, he is originate from Jaffa, a city which the zionist forces captured and depopulated in 1948. His family was forced to move to Egypt when he was of age five. After all these years Dr. Elmadfa still remembers his departure from Jaffa to the camps in the Sinai desert. He relates: “they put us in a small truck on the top of each other and threw us out into a camps in the Egyptian desert, where we spent six months. Then they forced us to move again, this time they threw into the Gaza Strip and told us “Gaza is your new homeland”.
Sadly there was only short time to talk with Dr. Elmadfa, after a minute I had to release him to enjoy the party with his friends. During our short conversation, Dr. Elmadfa he told me that he holds two nationalities but that he is sad to be without a Palestinian nationality because there is no Palestinian State yet
In April 2013, Dr. Elmadfa was awarded the big Silver Medal For Merit For the Republic of Austria by the federal President for his academic achievements in area of nutrition sciences.