AFOPA members Dr Francis Nathan (Ophthalmologist) and Ms Merlin Nathan (Occupational Therapist) report back on their recent visit to the West Bank, Palestine, 7-11 May 2016, with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF).
This mission was held at the Rafidiah Hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Spring in Nablus is reminiscent of spring in Adelaide with the jacarandas in their full, colourful bloom of deep purple lining the streets. It was lovely to be reminded of how the streets of Adelaide look in our spring.
The eye surgery program kicked off within hours of our arrival with 60 cataract operations plus 2 minor procedures performed over our five day visit.
The occupational therapy program included visits to rehabilitation centres in Salfit and Nablus treating disabled children and mentoring the local therapists.
The concept of developing an interest group was mooted in the last report. A meeting to facilitate an occupational therapy interest group working in the field of children with disabilities in the private sector in Palestine was held on the last day of our visit.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be a multi-disciplinary group, with two social workers, one occupational therapist, one physiotherapist and a teacher.
A common issue raised for all attending was the role of the family in the rehabilitation process. This included families’ lack of active participation, their lack of knowledge of discipline and team roles, and their involvement in assessment and treatment goal-setting. Possible strategies discussed were education at admission, family support groups, handouts, and sharing of resources between centres.
Messages from 'Oliver the Peace Tree' delivered
Besides the heavy schedule of work, we also met with a few dignitaries to present the messages of hope and peace from 'Oliver the Peace Tree'. 'Oliver' is a regular presence at AFOPA's stall at WOMADelaide, the world music festival staged in Adelaide every March. Visitors to the AFOPA stall can write their message to the people of Palestine and pin it to 'Oliver' the olive tree for delivery to Palestine on our next medical mission.
The messages were placed in a frame, three in all, with one each being presented to the Mayor of Nablus, the Al-Yasmeen Hotel where we have been staying over the years, and the head office of PCRF in Ramallah.
A folder containing the messages was also presented to the Library at the An-Najah University in Nablus.
Meeting the new Australian Representative
We were honoured with a social call from the Australian Representative to the Palestinian Authority, the Hon. Marcia Pius, who met us in Jerusalem, with whom we had a long discussion regarding the current program.
She mentioned the potential of involving the Australian-sponsored Palestinian postgraduates in Public Health with projects that have arisen from the interest group meeting. A separate document will be forwarded to her department and PCRF with specific proposals for consideration.
We are again most grateful to AFOPA and PCRF for their continuing financial support towards these trips.
Specifically we want to thank Dr Anan Matar and his team of dedicated nursing staff, Hiam, Ayesha and Shifa for their help in the Operating Room at Rafidiah Hospital; and the PCRF representatives, Hana and Sawsan, for their help with the rehabilitation program.
Francis and Merlin Nathan
> Read PCRF article on Dr Francis Nathan's working visit to Palestine.
> Read PCRF article on Merlin Nathan's working visit to Palestine.