A delegation of five Muslim doctors from Senegal arrived in Israel this week in order to participate in a joint workshop with Israeli doctors at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.
The purpose of the visit was to set up a joint mission of doctors that can help the war on AIDS in Africa.
The doctors came to Hadassah to learn special techniques used in circumcision and practiced in both Judaism and Islam, with the intention of assisting in such procedures in Africa. This in light of medical studies which revealed that circumcision surgeries reduce by 65% the chances of becoming infected with the HIV virus through sexual intercourse.
Israel has already sent three delegations to Swaziland to perform circumcision surgeries, as an experimental project and in a bid to assist the continent, where very few doctors are familiar with the technique.
This success has led to contacts between Israel and Senegal that ultimately resulted in a formal cooperation agreement between medical organizations on both sides: On the Israeli side – Operation Abraham – an umbrella organization that includes eight Israeli hospitals and medical institutions, and on the Senegalese side– the national medical association and the Health Ministry.
The joint workshop that opened Monday was part of this cooperation.
This week-long workshop is intended to establish a coordinated work method between Jewish and Muslim surgeons and to form a team to be sent in the future to South and East Africa and assist in surgeries.
A source told Ynet that, "This type of collaboration has never existed. It is the first time there is an equal collaboration between Muslims and Jews, surely on this issue". In spite of the fact that Operation Abraham has Israeli hospitals and medical associations working for it, including, it is not a governmental initiative, but an Israeli civilian initiative.
Ahead of the workshop, organizers also approached Arab medical organizations and invited their staff to attend, but were met with refusal.
Nevertheless, the organizers said they were very satisfied with this unique collaboration and hope that they have set a trend for larger collaborations in the future.