Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category.

The EU-Israel ACAA: This is no time for playing politics

This is a cross post from the The Board of Deputies by Jamie Slavin

The fiscal crisis currently engulfing the EU is well documented, so to claim that there is something which the EU simply cannot afford is perhaps a cliché.

But the Agreement on Conformity Assessment an Acceptance (ACAA) between the EU and Israel is a piece of technical legislation which the EU really cannot afford to be without.

The ACAA is a technical agreement acknowledging that Israeli safety checks on medicines conform to those which the EU itself has in place. It would negate the need for duplicating checks and would therefore reduce costs and the time taken for Israeli drugs to reach the market.

The convoluted arguments used by those opposed to the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance (ACAA) between the EU and Israel are breath-taking in their inaccuracy.

Rather than prioritise the healthcare of EU citizens, those opposed to this piece of technical legislation claim that passing the ACAA would put the EU’s trade position in conflict with its foreign and human rights policy.

Their argument was shown to be fatuous when the legal services of three separate EU institutions confirmed that the ACAA conforms with EU law. Karel De Gucht, the EU’s Trade Commissioner, stated that:

The Commission considers that the current ACAA text is compliant with the Lisbon treaty and international law and that no change or renegotiation is necessary.

So, the ACAA complies with international law, complies with the Lisbon Treaty (which calls for trade, foreign and human rights policy to be in harmony) and would save European citizens literally billions of Euros.

And yet some still oppose it.

European patients use 1,186 doses of medicines produced by the Israeli company Teva every second. One estimate suggests that by passing the ACAA, Members of the European Parliament would save health care providers €10 billion a year.

And what’s more, this is not a matter of the ACAA opening up the European market to Israeli companies where no access already exists. Israeli pharmaceuticals compete in the EU against those produced by every other nation – the ACAA simply means that when a provider selects an Israeli medicine from the many on offer, that patient will pay less.

The ACAA between the EU and Israel should not be a matter to play politics with. In these difficult financial times especially, the EU simply cannot afford to be without it.



Statement on Moty Cristal cancellation

We are appalled that Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust has cancelled a planned talk by a mediation expert solely because he is Israeli. This decision appears to be unlawful discrimination on the basis of nationality, taken by an NHS Trust. There must be an independent investigation into how this happened, possibly followed by dismissals or prosecutions of those who have broken the law. 
UNISON, which pressured for this boycott, is acting like a racist organisation. UNISON also claimed that banning Israeli speakers is consistant with the policy of the Trade Union Congress. We call on the TUC to clearly state that this is not TUC policy and to condemn the UNISON branch’s discriminatory actions.

Health Before Hate: Why increased links to Israel are good for EU citizens

The motivation of those who advocate boycotts of Israeli goods, cultural events or academics is baffling.

Many actually believe that they are somehow helping to promote peace, but how can driving a wedge between Israelis and Palestinians possibly be the best way to secure a better future for all.

Even more bizarre is the idea that the best way to encourage peace is by denying European citizens the best medical care possible. And yet that is exactly what anti-Israel groups are currently trying to do.

In May, the European Parliament will be voting on a technical piece of legislation, the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) which would confirm that Israel abides to the same standards as the European Union when it comes to producing industrial pharmaceutical goods.

This would save time and money, as the safety checks Israel already perform on its medicines would not have to be repeated once the products arrive in the EU. In effect, we get some of the best medicines produced in the world cheaper and faster.

Illustrating the point, Fair Play co-Chairman Brain Kerner has said:

“As a retired pharmacist, I know that medicines are vital and life-saving but can also be expensive. Anything that can open up markets and bring down the prices of medicines is good for the NHS and good for the public. The campaign to keep barriers on Israeli medicines entering the EU is both self-defeating and immoral”

Israel has satisfied all the criteria laid down by the EU, but under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, the ACAA with Israel still needs approval from the European Parliament.

This should be a mere formality, but for some people, it’s more important to try and score political points by blocking the vote, than to ensure European citizens get the very best medical care we can.

So, over the last few weeks we have seen the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their friends in the Liberal Democrats Friends of Palestine group increase their efforts to persuade MEPs not to vote for the ratification.

Let’s be clear – these Israeli medicines would reach the EU anyway. We will benefit from Israel’s outstanding pharmaceutical industry regardless of whether or not the ACAA is passed.

But by blocking the legislation, the boycotters will be adding to the amount we must pay when we need medicine and slowing down how quickly it is available.

It’s a truly bizarre position to take, and reveals just how extreme the boycott movement has become.

And extremism needs a response.

If you believe that the health of European citizens should be prioritised over petty political point scoring, then you must contact your MEPs. Explain to them that you would like them to vote in your best interests and not acquiesce to pressure from those whose primary motivation is to attack the State of Israel.

If you want more information about this issue, please contact [email protected].

NIFI: From Donaghadee to Israel – with a heart

This is a Guest-post from Northern Ireland Friends of Israel.

Originally from Donaghadee, Laura Kafif does not have to search around for job satisfaction.

Fourteen years ago the former hairdresser and part owner of a salon in Bangor left Northern Ireland for a new life in Israel with her Israeli husband Boaz.

When her own son was safely off to nursery school, Laura volunteered with Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), an Israeli charity, which brings thousands of children from around the world to Israel in order to carry out life-saving heart surgery unavailable  in their own countries.

Laura at work in Israel

On January 28 this year Save a Child’s Heart hit the headlines when a 6 year old boy named Woodley, together with his aunt, flew from Haiti to Tel-Aviv with the returning Israeli rescue team.  Woodley was greeted at the airport by hundreds of well-wishers, including the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Woodley was brought to Israel by SACH to undergo complicated cardiac surgery he desperately needs to survive.

Laura explains that SACH is totally dedicated to the idea that every child deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, colour, gender or financial situation.

Since  SACH was founded in 1995, by the late cardiac surgeon Dr Ami Cohen, it has saved the lives of more than 2,300 children from 36  countries – many of which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. 40% of the children who underwent cardiac surgery are from Africa; 49% from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan & Iraq;  the remainder from many other countries including the former USSR, China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

The children brought to Israel are treated at the Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon by a team of 70 dedicated experts who, from chief surgeon to the physiotherapist, contribute a substantial portion of their time without any payment from SACH.

The children are hosted at the SACH children’s home in nearby Azor before and after their treatment.

And that is where Laura comes in, her job is to run the children’s home. “As a child’s average stay in Israel is three months I get to know the children personally”, she says

Laura explains: “My son had just started Kindergarden so I just decided to show up at the SACH house to see how I could help. SACH had grown and were in the process of moving to a larger house.   After volunteering for six months, I was offered a job. I have been with SACH for eight and a half years, travelling twice to Zanzibar on medical missions with the SACH  medical team”.

In Laura’s care at the moment are five children from Gaza, children from Iraq, as well as children from Angola, Ghana, Uganda and the Gambia.

“Working for SACH is so completely different to what I was doing before I came to Israel.  Maybe it is a little clichéd to say, but there is nothing like working with these children and their escorts and seeing them within a few weeks after surgery,  running and playing like any child should.”

”During the month of February SACH is running a Valentines Day campaign.  Please visit their new interactive donation web page, watch world music innovator Idan Raichel hanging out with the children, and take a moment to “Give Your Heart…and Save a Life.”

If you would like to know more about Save a Childs Heart visit their website :