By Sammy Revel
THE world’s population is currently facing a major crisis. Governments are taking drastic measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. The first priorities are to take preventive measures, to provide the best possible life saving medical care and to maximize the scientific capabilities to face the epidemy. Steps are taken also to minimize the economic impact.
For Israel and for Cyprus, these are very challenging times. With the growing number of Coronavirus cases in our countries and being two small nations, almost all our resources are focused on the efforts to protect the population against the virus, to save lives as well as to start thinking of an exit strategy.
As our governments and medical systems are tuned to the urgent tasks, we can build on our strong ties to combat the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The successful partnership between our countries in the Health field, over many years, is very important in normal times and even more so in this time of emergency.
A first step is the initiative, taken with the Ministry of Health of Cyprus, to exchange expertise and treatment methods. The Sheba governmental medical center, which is the national corona center of Israel, started working together with the Famagusta general hospital, the corresponding national center in Cyprus. Moreover, Sheba Medical will also exchange treatment protocols to better support patients in the Nicosia Hospital intensive care unit.
Day by day hospitals are gaining experience in the diagnosis and treatment of Coronavirus patients. In view of the specialized knowledge of Sheba Medical center in Israel, this is an important platform for Israel – Cyprus cooperation to provide the appropriate medical care. It can also open the door to further synergies between our health professionals – including on issues of policy, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Similar collaborations are also vital on scientific research projects to find new necessary solutions. Israel is a leader of Science and Technology and in recent years we solidified a framework for cooperation between Israel and Cyprus in Technological Innovation.
Multiple companies and startups in Israel are developing innovative products much needed today. This is crucial in fields such as Diagnostics and Triaging, providing automated information about the spread of the Virus, reliably informing the population, providing healthcare professionals with better protection, maintaining Hygiene, providing treatment to patients, dealing with emergency situations and more. There are many examples of successful innovations developed in facing challenges posed by the Coronavirus. The innovation bridge between Israel, Cyprus and other countries can assist greatly to accelerate the implementation of these innovations.
Presently, as anxiety prevails, each one of us copes with the situation also on a personal level. We are facing unprecedented changes in our day to day life. While we need to practice social distancing, it is of major importance to show solidarity and support to our close ones and families as well as to our communities. In these uncertain times nurturing the friendship with the people around us is of great importance.
The utmost priority at this point of time is to protect the population from the spread of the virus. As we look forward, it is equally significant to further deepen our cooperation. As close neighbors, Israel and Cyprus can and should be at the forefront of a wider cooperation facing the threat of the Coronavirus.
Sammy Revel is the Ambassador of Israel in Cyprus