Throughout Prof. Elhanan Bar-On’s tenure at Sheba, he became widely recognized for his outstanding management of the Center for Disaster Medicine – consistently exemplifying the inspirational motto “Hope Without Boundaries.” His achievements led to him being presented with the 2020 Yigal Alon Prize for Pioneering Excellence.
Bar-On has three decades of experience in emergency medical response and has been the recipient of multiple awards, making him one of Sheba’s most qualified professionals in the field. During his term in the IDF Medical Corps Reserves, he participated in many humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations worldwide, including several devastating earthquakes, such as India in 2001, Haiti in 2010 and Nepal in 2015. Bar-On also travelled to the Philippines in 2013, as part of a relief team that responded in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda.
In addition to being a member of countless IDF humanitarian missions, Bar-On has been involved in many missions with NGOs and government agencies. In 1999, he assisted in Turkey following a massive earthquake, and in 2004, he provided medical aid in India after the tsunami.
The World Health Organization is not the only international health and relief group with which Bar-On maintains a connection. He also has ties to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, currently still working with the latter to train medical teams around the globe in locations ranging from India and China to Mozambique, Tanzania, and more countries. Bar-On has been a member of various other medical projects, such as joint Israeli-Palestinian programs, where he organized medical aid to Gaza and the Palestinian Authority.
Of particular note, in January 2020, he was one of the first Israeli doctors to announce the need to prepare for the coronavirus in Israel. When the Israeli citizens with coronavirus returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, Bar-On helped to launch the construction of Israel’s first coronavirus isolation unit, built at Sheba Medical Center. He also helped train Palestinian doctors to manage and treat coronavirus.
In May, he encouraged Israel to work in tandem with the Palestinian Authority to prevent the spread of Covid-19 back and forth between Israel and the PA. At that time, Bar-On stressed,
“Because this is a completely new scenario, sharing knowledge among healthcare providers is of utmost importance.”