Welcoming Remarks, Dr. H. Nasir - Prevention and Management of Diabetes Symposium

The following are the welcoming remarks given by Birzeit University President, Dr. Hanna Nasir to the Prevention and Management of Diabetes Symposium, held in Ramallah 11 March, 2000.

H.E. Dr. Riyad Za'noun, Minister of Health
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the symposium on the "Prevention and Management of Diabetes" under the auspices of the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University. I would especially like to express my greetings to Dr. Riyad Za'noun as well as to the local and international experts and to Dr. Jak Jervell - past President of the International Diabetes Federation.

In spite of the fact the BZU does not have a faculty of Medicine, yet the Institute of Community and Public Health engages itself in issues related to community health matters. In fact, the University has been engaged for a long time in community issues and feels that its responsibilities are to provide both academic and community-related programs. It is within this context that we have several similar institutes at the University such as the Law Institute, the Women's Studies Institute and the Institute for Development. All these institutes help in training and research programs that contribute to the creation of a productive and enlightened civil society in the country.

It is unfortunate that the conference is not being held at Birzeit itself. But of course, you are probably aware of the difficult circumstances that the University has recently passed through. Due to the precarious situation, the organizers of the symposium decided to move the venue to Ramallah. Fortunately, the issue is now resolved and the situation at the University is back to normal, but it was difficult to make the venue changes one more time.

The incident that took place on the campus has given rise to international publicity over the last two weeks. However, it is hoped that the extensive publicity will not deter us from upholding the University principles: mainly the freedom of expression and the renunciation of violence in all its forms on campus. And although there was absolutely no justification for the violence that occurred, yet it can probably be explained as due to the frustration resulting from the procrastination of the Israeli government in advancing the peace process.

The University would like to reiterate that there should be no place for violence on its campus, for violence is the antithesis of freedom of expression. Moreover, the University is determined to continue functioning as a democratic institute that believes in academic freedom and liberal thinking.

I apologize for indulging in discussing the stand of the University vis à vis the recent incident, but I wanted to emphasize the principles of the University without any ambiguity - especially at these times when the Palestinians are gradually emerging from the darkness of occupation. As such, we should be confident in ourselves and should interact responsibly with the world community as we want the world community to interact with us.

I would like now to end my short welcoming words by expressing my thanks to Dr. Rita Giacaman - a powerful dynamo who has been outstanding in her commitment to the work of the Institute since its establishment as a small department many years ago. She and her team have labored much towards the improvement of the health of our people in Palestine - when there was no Palestinian authority. Now they work in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. The cooperation is a source of pride for us and the presence of Dr. Za'noun with us today personifies this cooperation.

Once again, I do welcome you all and hope that you will have a successful symposium that can help us - through research and through public awareness of proper management of diabetes.