Physicians, the voice of peace!

The Symposium “War, Migration and Health: What Should Physicians Do?” organized jointly by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), İstanbul Chamber of Medicine and World Medical Association took place in İstanbul on 26-27 February 2016.  There were about 200 participants from 17 countries attending the event.

Medical Associations from Germany, Greece, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Ukraine were present at the meeting while there were also representatives from various medical organizations from the US, Albania and Uganda. Besides medical chambers and local governments in Turkey, other representatives attending the Symposium were from the following organizations:  United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Junior Physicians Network (JDN) World Health Organization (WHO)-Turkey, Presidency of Migration Management,  Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Peoples’ Bridge Association, Peace Association, Turkish Medical Students International Committee  (Turkish MSIC), Turkish Psychiatry Association, Turkish Thorax Association, Association of Public Health Specialists (HASUDER), Turkish Nurses Association, and Association of Social Workers.

The sessions in the Symposium focused on the following themes: “War, migration and social determinants of health”; “Health problems deriving from migration”; “Armed conflicts and migration in Middle East: Turkish experience and related activities of the TTB”; “Migration policies of countries and institutions: A critical assessment”; “Women and war” and “Presentations by national medical associations.”

On its first day, the Symposium started with opening speeches delivered by Dr Bayazıt İlhan, President of the Central Council of TTB, Dr Selçuk Erez, President of İstanbul Chamber of Medicine, Sir Michael Marmot, President of World Medical Association, and İrfan Keskin, AFAD President.

“ Physicians have their responsibilities for children”

Then Sir Michael Marmot took the floor with his presentation “The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World”. Mr Marmot stressed the responsibilities of physicians for children facing the difficulties of armed conflict and in need of health services.

The speakers in the panel discussion where representatives from national medical associations were Dr Heidi Stensmyren from the Swedish Medical Association, Dr Michail P. Vlastarakos from the Greek Medical Association, Prof André Herchuelz from the Belgian Medical Association, and Dr Leonid Eidelmann  from the Medical Association of Israel

MSF experience

Following the presentation of Dr Apostolos Veizis from the Médecins Sans Frontières  (MSF) “Medical and Humanitarian Aid for Migrants “about MSF’s experience and struggle,  Dr Dainius Puras, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health made his presentation on “Human Rights and Migration.”

During the session where Prof Frank-Ulrich Montgomery from the German Medical Association and Dr Christine Romann were also speakers, the issues revolved around the experiences of national medical associations and problems they face in their respective countries.

The sessions of the first day of the Symposium ended after papers delivered by Prof Nükhet Sirman from the Sociology Department of Bosporus University and by Prof Vivienne Nathanson.

“Europe has the problem of admitting migrants”

The second day of the Symposium started with the presentation of Dr Margaret Mungherera from Uganda who explained the related African perspective.  It was followed by a session on the experiences of medical associations with speakers Dr Xavier Deau from France, Dr Maciej Hamankiewicz from Poland, and Dr Barbro Kvaal from Norway. In her speech Ms Kvaal said “I can’t say Europe has the problem of refugees; we have the problem of admitting them.”

“ Physicians are the voice of peace”

Following the analysis titled “How Can We Respond to the needs of Refugees?” by Dr Thorsten Hornung from the Junior Doctors Network (JDN), Dr Beyazıt İlhan, President of the Central Council of TTB made his presentation “War and Migration in Middle East: The Experience of Turkey and TTB Activists.”  In his address Dr İlhan informed participants about TTB efforts related to migration and migrants. Stressing that physicians should defend peace against wars and armed conflicts that deeply disturb conditions of public health, Dr İlhan said “Physicians are the voice of peace”.

Click for the presentation of Dr Bayazıt İlhan.

Local government experiences

The next session was on local experiences presented by Dr Lütfü Savaş, Mayor of Hatay Greater Municipality, Mayor Zeydan Karalar from Seyhan and Cengiz Balkan, Mayor of Küçükkuyu.

“We have to fight for human dignity”

DeDe Dunevant participated to the Symposium on behalf of the Physicians for Human Rights and her presentation was titled “Physicians : Champions of the Right to Seek Asylum” focusing on violence against health services in Syria. Saying “The crisis of humanity took start in Syria”, Ms Dunevant underlined that human beings are born with equal rights and finished her presentation by stressing the need “to fight for human dignity where we all need each other.”

After the address of Prof Vivienne Nathanson, the symposium ended with the session on views and suggestions for the future.