24 October 2016
Faculty of Nursing & Health Sciences opens its Oncology & Palliative Care High Diploma
On Monday, October 17th, students, faculty, staff, and guests from Glasgow, Scotland gathered in the Bethlehem University auditorium to celebrate the official launch of Bethlehem University’s new High Diploma in Oncology & Palliative Care. The Oncology program, designed by Nursing Dean Mariam Awad, Dr. Jaqualyn Moore of King’s College in London, and Gerry O’Hare, an Oncology specialist from Vale of Leven Hospital in Glasgow, represents a historic achievement; it is the first graduate degree of its kind in Palestine. Bethlehem University stands proudly at the forefront of cancer patient care in Palestine.
Brother Stephen Tuohy, Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of the BU Foundation, delivered opening remarks. Dr. Amal Abu Awad from the Ministry of Health, Issam Juha, the deputy mayor of Bethlehem, and Ms. Mira Mukarker, the program director of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) were on hand to commemorate the accomplishment. Lord Provost Sadie Docherty mayor of Glasgow, along with Mr. Gerry O’Hare and a delegation of Glaswegians, traveled from Scotland to celebrate this latest milestone in the outstanding partnership between the cities of Glasgow and Bethlehem, a relationship that goes back more than 20 years.
Mrs. Mariam Awad spoke briefly about the story behind the successful implementation of the new degree: the program was first conceived as far back as 2011, when Ms. Awad met Gerry O’Hare in the course of his first visit to the West Bank. Mariam first reached out to Dr. Jaqualyn Moore in 2014, and then led a contingent of Palestinian healthcare workers to Glasgow in June 2015. Dr. Moore arrived at Bethlehem University in 2016, and has been instrumental both in developing the Oncology curriculum and teaching within the Nursing Faculty. Mariam also pointed out that the launch of the Oncology and Palliative Care Program comes in what Pope Francis has declared as “the Year of Mercy,” explaining that this program embodies the values of compassion, humanity and love for all patients diagnosed with cancer and their families.
The new Oncology program will continue to benefit immensely from the generous support of the city of Glasgow; Mayor Docherty announced that two students from every cohort will have the opportunity to travel to Scotland to receive clinical training and direct experience in oncology and palliative care in a Glasgow hospital, and reiterated her pride in the enduring bond of friendship and support between the twinned cities of Bethlehem and Glasgow.
Additionally, Ms. Mira Mukarker announced that MAP would be supporting the Nursing faculty with a grant for two overlapping cohorts of 10 students each, with funding extending through the year 2018 and the potential to increase funding for three additional cohorts. This generosity highlights the positive relationship between Bethlehem University and Medical Aid for Palestinians as each institution strives to improve healthcare infrastructure in Palestine.
After all remarks and announcements concluded, BU students and the delegation from Glasgow participated in a lively cultural exchange; university band Wajd and the Ebda’ Dabkeh band each contributed excellent performances, and the Glaswegians responded in kind with a poetry performance and some Scottish folk music. In addition to reciting famous Scottish poetry, Chris Dolan included an original poem, a variation on the traditional ‘ataba form. Notable Gaelic singer Maeve McKinnon also lent her lovely voice to the musical offerings, including her original song “Once Upon an Olive Branch,” a song expressing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. At the conclusion of the afternoon, the entire auditorium joined the Scottish delegation in linking arms and singing the traditional song “Auld Lang Syne” before adjourning to the reception.