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TheScientificWorldJOURNAL
Volume 6, Pages 2170-2176
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2006.346
Review Article

Cross-Cultural Medicine in the Middle East at the Start of the 21st Century: Where East and West Meet

Jacob Urkin,1,2,3,4 Mohammed Morad,1,3,5,6 Joav Merrick,3,4,5,6,7 and Yaakov Henkin3,8,9

1Clalit Health Services, Beer-Sheva, Israel
2Pediatric Primary Care Unit, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
3Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
4Division of Pediatrics, Soroka University Medical Center, Israel
5National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
6Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Aging, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
7Office of the Medical Director, Division for Mental Retardation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel
8Department of Cardiology, Soroka University Medical Center, Israel
9Medical School for International Health in collaboration with Columbia University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Received 1 April 2006; Revised 31 May 2006; Accepted 1 June 2006

Academic Editor: Søren Ventegodt

Copyright © 2006 Jacob Urkin et al.

Abstract

The “global village” has resulted in the need to tackle cross-cultural issues in the medical school curriculum. The southern region of Israel (the Negev) provides a unique opportunity to study the interaction between medicine and culture. The Negev population is a multicultural society, with Bedouin Arabs comprising almost a fifth of its population. This imposes tremendous challenges to the medical establishment in the region and serves as a “cross-cultural laboratory” for educating medical students in global health issues. Both the traditional Israeli medical school track, as well as the newly established Medical School for International Medicine, incorporate studies of cross-cultural issues in various forms and to different degrees. Studies suggest that the exposure of students to international medical experiences increases their cross-cultural sensitivity and knowledge. We feel that in a region characterized by such ethnic diversity, all medical schools should adopt cross-cultural studies as an integral part of their curriculum.