Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Middle Eastern and North American Institutional Partnerships Grow

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Middle Eastern and North American Institutional Partnerships Grow

Article excerpt

Middle Eastern and North American Institutional Partnerships Grow

By Betsy Barlow

Several universities and institutions in the U.S. and Canada are cooperating with counterparts in the Middle East on educational projects. One such institution, the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada, has launched two projects to assist in training public health professionals.

In Lebanon, NECEF has as its partner Beirut University College. NECEF's contribution is to send a psychiatrist from the University of Toronto to assist in the shortterm training of professionals. Dr. Julinda Abu Nasr, director of the Center for Arab Women's Studies, is directing the project.

In the West Bank and Gaza NECEF's partner is Bir Zeit University, which for two years is offering an extension course on child and family mental health and on counseling techniques for family care professionals in the Palestinian communities of Nablus, Ramallah and Gaza. A fourth location in Hebron is still in the planning stages. While short courses have been offered before, this particular program is more thorough and provides a performance evaluation and certificates. NECEF is providing two staff members from the University of Toronto, one from McGill medical faculty, and a therapist from Concordia University in Montreal to assist in the training.

Dr. Jim Graff of NECEF reports that while response to the project has been gratifying, the hope to bring Gaza and West Bank practitioners together to discuss coordination, facilities and service issues has been frustrated because of Israeli closures in both places. He also explained that some of the project's local partners have suffered funding cuts, as resources have shifted away from the NGOs.

Another Canadian institution working with Palestinians is McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Its Centers for Peace Studies and for International Health operate Health Reach, a series of surveys on the physical and mental health of children in the West Bank and Gaza. This is one part of a study on the needs of populations in zones of armed conflict. Other areas under study are the former Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka. Mohawk College, Hamilton, also is working on mental health projects with faculty at al-Quds. Queens University, Kingston, operates an exchange program with Bethlehem University.

The exchange program for both students and faculty which Carleton University, Ottawa, operates with Bir Zeit University has been in existence for five years. Faculty and students involved in the exchanges are from the social sciences. Carleton has been particularly active in helping Bir Zeit set up its Women's Studies Program under Bir Zeit coordinator Eileen Kuttab. For further information, contact Prof. Nahla Abdo, Sociology/Anthropology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6.

University of Michigan Working With Palestinian Medical Committees

The University of Michigan's School of Public Health is cooperating with the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (a group of 70 NGOs with a total of about 1,000 volunteers operating clinics in the West Bank and Gaza) and Health Development Information for Palestine, a research organization which has already published several works and a bibliography on health status, needs and services.

Dr. Mustapha Barghouti, director and chair of the two organizations, visited the School last March. Since then, student exchanges have already taken place. A University of Michigan public health student has traveled to the West Bank and Gaza. She interviewed some of the principals in the project, and brought back books and articles for the new Palestinian health section in the UM public health library. …

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