Shalom Life | September 15, 2014

Discovering Peace through the International Language of Health

IPEME program builds relationships between Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Canadians

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 8th, 2012 in Health » World

Discovering Peace through the International Language of Health

When 12 medical students departed to their home countries last week following their completion of a summer elective course in paediatric emergency medicine and global health, they not only left with invaluable experience that will one day help them in their careers, but perhaps more importantly with a greater understanding of peaceful interaction through unlikely cross-border friendships.

The International Paediatric Emergency Medicine Elective (IPEME) brings together Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Canadian medical students to Toronto, Ont. for four weeks each year to learn about paediatric emergency medicine and other topics such as psychology, social sciences and health sciences.

Presented by The Peter A. Silverman Centre for International Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto as well as the Canada International Scientific Exchange Program (CISEPO), the course is a full-recognized University of Toronto undergraduate medical elective, available for students entering their final two years of medical studies as well as those who have recently graduated.

It is funded by Wealhouse Capital Management and the Kavelman-Fonn Foundation. Since 2007 to date, 59 students have successfully completed IPEME.

This year’s program, the ninth since it was originally created, was the first in which a full roster of 12 students took part; including three from each geographic region.

From July 9 to August 3, the students participated in three daily sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., involving case-based seminars, informative lessons and especially hands-on experiences, which included paediatric emergency medicine shifts at local hospitals.


2012 IPEME students in action. Photo: IPEME

And throughout the entire month, the participants built friendships while living with one another, fostering peaceful relationships and cross-border cooperation.

“It’s truly transformative. As Canadians we can organize an event like this and pry the umbrella,” said Dr. Harvey Skinner, dean of the faculty of health at York University and CISEPO’s chair of the board of directors. “When meeting with Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians, we find out it’s humanizing and we’re more similar than different. Every time we do this and we see the impact that it has, it truly gets rid of your stereotypes. We can only move forward and resolve the conflicts through cooperation and negotiation.”

Dr. Dennis Scolnik, co-director of IPEME and a physician in emergency paediatric medicine at SickKids Hospital concurred.

“Our idea is to use health as a vehicle for peace, health being the neutral language that all humans speak. Moving on to paediatric health is even more common and more acknowledged by everyone,” Scolnik told Shalom Life.

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