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Sheba is at the Heart of a Unique Bond between Cyprus and Israel

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Complex, comprehensive medical care was required to treat a Cypriot police officer who was shot in the spine in the line of duty. Without delay, medical professionals in Cyprus airlifted him to Sheba Medical Center in Israel. He received rapid, effective treatment that led to his rehabilitation. This police officer is just one example of the many patients from Cyprus who are sent to Israel for advanced medical care – and are received with open arms. Sheba is proud to play a pivotal role in this humanitarian partnership.

Prof. Arnon Afek, Associate Director General, the Acting Director of Sheba General Hospital, explains the special roots of this bond between Sheba and Cyprus. “We see ourselves not just as a leading Israeli hospital, but also as a hospital with global impact. We have a soft spot for the people of Cyprus. They’re a small country, like us, and also have to grapple with the geopolitical dangers rampant in the Mediterranean region.”

Approximately four to eight Cypriot patients are treated monthly at Sheba. In particular, patients are inspired and reassured to come to Sheba in response to the multidisciplinary medical center’s prestigious reputation as one of the “Top 10 Hospitals in the World,” according to a recent feature by Newsweek.

Cyprus is fortunate to have many outstanding doctors, medical practitioners, and hospitals, yet the small size of the island limits the amount of specialized services that it can offer.

“As a member of the European Union, Cyprus had been accustomed to looking more to its European partners, particularly Britain and Greece,” said Cypriot Ambassador to Israel, Thessalia Shambos. “Then we realized, Israel is even closer and has some truly top-notch medical facilities… The ethos of the Israeli doctors, nurses and medical teams at Sheba is to make patients feel at home. These patients often know nothing about Israel, some don’t speak any English. They see the Israeli doctors’ commitment to the Hippocratic oath – they don’t care where a person is from, they just treat the patient who is in front of them.”

Since 2011, the trend of the Cypriot government to sponsor patients to travel to Israel for treatment has grown stronger. This is largely due to the establishment of a joint medical program between the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, which is associated with Sheba, and Great Britain’s St. George University, which has a program at the University of Nicosia’s Medical School.

The joint medical program better familiarized Cypriot doctors with Israel. Additionally, it led to many doctors coming to Sheba and subsequently choosing to continue their medical education in Israel. They learn Hebrew, apply to local programs, and then do their residencies in Israel.

Lampros Kallenos is another patient who came from Cyprus to benefit from Sheba’s state-of-the-art medical care. This 8-year-old boy suffers from a very rare red blood cell disease, and he has spent the majority of his life at the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba. “He’s one of the miracles of Sheba,” said Shambos. “He is an example of our cooperation when it comes to medicine.”

Unique Bond between Cyprus and Israel

Prof. Afek highlights Cyprus as a prime example of how medicine can actualize and promote the potential of international cooperation.

“Helping the Cypriot people is part of our global vision,” he said. “If there’s one field that can overcome political disagreements and be a true bridge to peace over the troubled waters in the Middle East, it’s medicine!”

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