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Efforts to combat racism and anti-Semitism often look like this: One side objects to an offending event or group at an institution. Then the group counters with their defence. Forced to make a decision, the decisionmakers try to placate both sides with half-measures.

We saw that pattern repeat itself this month at the University of Toronto. You'll read about it below - plus find out about a new Israeli med-tech initiative helping patients in underserved communities outside Israel, and see an interesting article from the British Medical Journal on how pediatricians can respond to racist parents.


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Half-measures at U of T to address anti-Semitism

When the University of Toronto commissioned a working group last year to study anti-Semitism on campus, we dared to hope it would produce meaningful change. 

The need for action has only intensified in recent months. In the spring, students cried foul over anti-Semitism at the school's Temerty School of Medicine. Then in November, the Scarborough Campus Student Union passed a motion limiting kosher options at the school to those "who do not normalize Israeli apartheid." (They later walked back the motion.)

Now the working group has come up short on campus anti-Semitism. Its report, released in early December, recommends several half-measures, which were accepted by the university. Most telling, it refuses to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism - which has been adopted by both the Canadian and Ontario provincial governments.

“The reason that we are not recommending the adoption of the IHRA, or other definitions, is that all of them are designed for different purposes," said Arthur Ripstein, chair of the working group and professor of law and philosophy at U of T. "They are not suitable to the distinctive context of the university. Adoption of them would not integrate with the requirements on us and our other existing policy commitments.”

The report also recommended avoiding any bans on anti- or pro-Israel events.

While we appreciate the efforts of the working group and U of T administrators, there's clearly work to be done on anti-Semitism at one of Canada's top institutions of higher learning.

The special challenge pediatricians face when addressing racist parents

Pediatricians can't refuse care to their patients because of racism as easily as their counterparts in other specialties, suggests an interesting new article in the British Medical Journal.

"When an adult seeks care for themselves," write the authors, "it can be argued that although access to healthcare is a right, it comes with responsibilities. If these are breached by imposing racial conditionality on receiving care, healthcare professionals and organisations can refuse to treat them."

Not so when the patient is a child.

"What should be done, for example," they ask, "when a parent imposes racial conditionality on care for their child? Children are not morally complicit in their parents’ actions, so why should their care be compromised?"

The authors present three factors to balance when responding to racism in a pediatric setting: presence of abuse, the rights of the healthcare provider, and urgency of intervention for the child.

Physicians typically must craft this balance for themselves, but leaders need to provide more guidance to eradicate racism in healthcare and support minority caregivers.

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Healthcare institutions, employers, medical regulators, and paediatric colleges would benefit greatly from clarifying such policies to empower all their staff to stand up to racism and support those who have been affected," write the authors.

Israel's med-tech goes global

A new remote healthcare initiative in Israel is pushing the country's healthcare capabilities thousands of kilometres past its borders to areas with limited healthcare.

The project offers remote home monitoring of pediatric cardiac patients in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector, the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank, Gaza, Iraq, Kurdistan and Cyprus. It was developed by The Heart Institute at Sheba Medical Center’s Safra Children's Hospital and med-tech startup Datos Health, a member of Sheba’s ARC (Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate) Telemedicine Hub.

Under the program, parents of babies in the virtual clinic will receive devices for measuring weight, oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure, which they will transmit every day via a connected tablet.

“This remote monitoring program is another hybrid service ARC has been developing as part of Sheba’s overall strategy to transform healthcare and improve quality, access, and health equity in Israel and around the world,” said Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Innovation Officer at Sheba Medical Center and founder of the hospital's ARC telemedicine hub.

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