Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Dr Leonid Roshal: Children Must Not Suffer at the Hands of Politicians


Palestinian fathers holding their dead children… the stones weep at this… what about you?

A group of Russian paediatricians headed by the prominent surgeon Leonid Roshal left Moscow for Gaza on Wednesday, 21 January. Their mission is to give medical aid to Palestinian children injured during the Israeli military operation “Cast Lead”. The group comprises a children’s trauma surgeon, a neurosurgeon, an expert on wounds, and a general surgeon. World-famous paediatrician Dr Leonid Roshal, chairman of the International Task Force of Paediatric Disaster Medicine in the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine said that, on Monday, he received an official letter from the head of the Union of Health Work Committees, the largest professional association uniting Palestinian doctors and professors. Russian specialists were invited to Palestine to give medical aid to children in need.

According to data from Palestinian physicians, Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip in late December took a toll of over 1,000 human lives; amongst the dead were some 300 children. Dr Roshal said, “I usually take a cautious approach to statistics, because statistics are often mixed up with politics. Everything becomes clearer after one inspects the situation on-site. If statistical reports say that 200-300 children died, this means that the figure for the injured should be 1,000, and, amongst them, about 300 are badly wounded. I understand that this is an enormous tragedy! This group of paediatricians was formed as a matter of urgency. We are ready to leave for Gaza to examine those children together with Palestinian doctors. It may happen that everything is all right there. Or, probably, we shall give our consultations regarding some patients, and this will help to prevent permanent injury to those children. If evacuation is needed, this can be done via Egypt. I am an advocate of medical aid on site; patients should be evacuated to other cities or countries only if such aid cannot be provided locally”.

Dr Roshal said that the term of Russian doctors’ stay in Gaza was not specified. It depends on the number of children who need medical aid. If necessary, Russia can take about 100 of the worst cases amongst the Palestinian children who were seriously wounded. Aircraft of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations (MChS) can be used to evacuate them. Dr Roshal emphasised that there are several good paediatric medical centres in Moscow; their specialists are always ready to give qualified medical aid. Amongst such centres is, notably, the Moscow Scientific-Research Institute of Paediatric Emergency Surgery and Traumatology set up and headed by Dr Roshal. More than once, the institute’s specialists came to the rescue of children injured in the zones of natural calamities, man-made disasters, and hostilities. Dr Roshal said, “For us, the children have always been important. ‘Children must not be hostages of politicians, they must not suffer at the hands of politicians’; this is our credo”.

21 January 2009

Svetlana Kalmykova

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor‘s Note:

Dr Leonid Roshal is justly famous throughout Russia; he has received the highest awards that the Russian state can confer in recognition of his professional skill and for his work in negotiating in situations where children are involved, such as the Beslan hostage crisis and the Nord-Ost Theatre incident. He is a peerless doctor, a devoted humanitarian, and a great human being. The world is better for his being here. Three cheers for Dr Roshal… ura, Ura, URA!



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