Israel’s Magen David Adom will share emergency medical services know-how with the Indonesian health system. (From left: Dr. Sudibyo Markus, Prof. Aryono Pusponegoro, Dr. Noam Ifrach)Israeli know-how in emergency medical services is perhaps one of the country’s least-known exports. Magen David Adom (MDA), the National Medical Emergency Society of the State of Israel, is one of several organizations that regularly send delegations to aid not only in disaster relief, but to train EMS teams before disaster strikes.

Last week marked another milestone for MDA when Dr. Sudibyo Markus, the head of Indonesia’s Muhammadiyah organization, arrived in Israel last week on an official visit to establish cooperation between his organization and Magen David Adom. Official visits between Indonesia and Israel are rare as the countries do not have diplomatic ties.

Markus was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony of a preliminary agreement of cooperation signed by the chairman of the Indonesian Rescue and Emergency Service, Prof. Aryono Pusponegoro, also of the Indonesian College of Surgeons; the chairman of MDA’s Board of Directors, Dr. Noam Ifrach, and MDA director-general Eli Bin. Pusponegoro said: “I am 76 years old, and delighted that I have succeeded in fulfilling my childhood dream of coming to Israel.”

The agreement was witnessed by Markus, the highest Indonesian official ever to visit Israel, who told The Jakarta Post that “Muhammadiyah is interested in such a program.”

Muhammadiyah is the oldest and largest Islamic social welfare organization in the world, established in 1912. It is a moderate faith-based group with a mandate to improve civil society, serve the poor, and promote tolerance and pluralism. Muhammadiyah operates dozens of clinics, hospitals, orphanages, schools and universities in Indonesia. It has over 28 million members and has been recognized by the Indonesian government and by international organizations.

Ifrach said: “We hope that, by the signing of this agreement between MDA and Indonesia, cooperation will be expanded to other fields. We expect that it will strengthen bilateral relations on all levels.”

Knowledge sharing

Once a final agreement is signed, a delegation of EMS experts from Magen David Adom will head out for Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. They will share knowledge in emergency medical services and planning work protocols for the Indonesian health system, which will be implemented by Indonesian medical teams.

The practical and managerial knowledge will be implemented by internationally recognized MDA specialists. The Indonesians will share their experience in preparing for, and responding to, natural disasters.

Sudibyo told The Jakarta Post that his visit was also intended to promote “interfaith dialogue” and that the visit would not have happened, had MDA not been recognized as an equal member of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 2005, Magen David Adom was accepted into the ranks of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This acceptance entitled MDA to various grants and expanded the universality of MDA’s international humanitarian activities worldwide, strengthening the cooperation between MDA and the other members.

Cooperation between MDA and the Indonesian rescue and emergency organization began approximately one year ago, with the arrival of a delegation to Israel of 23 Indonesian health and community organization officials for an MDA course on management of multi-casualty incidents.