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Tony Waterston

Tony Waterston: Wars and peace in Kazakhstan

3 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

“What has International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) achieved anyway?” The question posed at a workshop on primary prevention needed answering, since the 21st IPPNW Congress meeting we were at coincided with major wars in Gaza, Syria, and Ukraine. Not even the most ardent members of IPPNW would expect our organisation to prevent all war, but we did get the Nobel peace prize in 1985 for warning the world about nuclear war.

And Nobel peace prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev, in his memoirs, said: “It is impossible to ignore what these people are saying. What they are doing commands great respect. For what they say and what they do is prompted by accurate knowledge and a passionate desire to warn humanity about the danger looming over it.” more…

Tony Waterston: Opening the Black Box on weapons of mass destruction?

19 Nov, 13 | by BMJ

Probably, chemical weapons aren’t at the top of most doctors’ minds in the UK. In the Middle East, where they have been used extensively in recent years and most tragically in August in Syria, doctors have had to inform themselves of protective measures since the threat is a daily reality. more…

Tony Waterston: Chemical weapons and the health response in Palestine

2 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

The man on the flagpole in Arafat Square was no nearer the top (see previous blog) and the mood in relation to peace talks is not hopeful. But the MA in child health at Al Quds in Jerusalem is making good progress after seven months of operation. We are now on the 4th module which is emotional and behavioural problems—the first taster on child mental health, a mystery to most Palestinian health professionals.

Our course, a partnership between the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Al Quds medical school, uses self-directed learning and small group teaching. Two role play sessions illustrated the techniques. The students playing a hyperactive child disrupted the doctor’s communication with the “mother” quite effectively and in the second, a consultant played the father who is downplaying the likely autistic symptoms of his “son,” saying he is just “normal.” The doctor has to recognise and handle these different expectations, as the “mother” was extremely anxious. more…

Tony Waterston: Why can’t we stop nuclear weapons?

10 May, 13 | by BMJ Group

Doctors first started to speak out about the health impact of nuclear weapons way back in 1980; the BMA published The Medical Effects of Nuclear weapons in 1983 and it was in 1985 that International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in publicising what nuclear weapons do to people. Now here we are 30 years later with more countries possessing these “aweful” weapons than ever before – nine at least, including Israel, and several more on the want-to-be list. more…

Tony Waterston: Children’s rights in England–a long way to go

5 Feb, 13 | by BMJ

Five strong women addressed the packed chamber at the Palace of Westminster, perhaps illustrating the predominance of women in the children’ sector. The subject was the launch of the 2012 state of children’s rights in England by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE). The report is a scorching condemnation of the government’s lack of whole hearted support for children’s rights, and the continuing failure to implement UN recommendations: many of which relate directly to health. more…

Tony Waterston: Children seeking asylum in the UK

6 Dec, 12 | by BMJ

She was a mature 16 and could be taken for an adult. Indeed it was with the words of an adult that she expressed the fears, anxiety, and stress she felt when she came to UK at the age of 11 as an asylum seeker from Pakistan. Fears, as she was not treated with consideration; anxiety, as she didn’t understand the language; and stress, as she had to be responsible for her physically disabled mother in running the household over the first years in the UK. Speaking in front of MPs and a peer in a committee room in the House of Commons earlier this month, she was nervous and hesitant, but as the gentle questioning and respectful comments continued she visibly grew in confidence. more…

Tony Waterston: The Artist wins in Moscow too

1 Mar, 12 | by BMJ Group

On the night that a silent movie won best film award at the Oscars I felt transported back to the very same era in Moscow. Stalinesque buildings, elegant cathedral-like metro system, and fur coats to keep off the bitter cold. But at the national paediatric meeting attended by 3000 from across this huge country, the talk was of innovation, new technology, and quality of life measures which were bang up to date. more…

Tony Waterston: Rain and refugees in Ramallah

17 Jan, 12 | by BMJ Group

In Ramallah in January, the talk is only of delight over the much needed heavy rain, even though it comes with biting cold and a strong mountain wind. For British visitors leaving  the warmest autumn in decades it is a shock and in the auditorium for the graduation even the speakers wore overcoat and gloves. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health delegation, accompanying the president professor Terence Stephenson for the ceremony to confer certificates for the diploma in Palestinian child health, shivered, but the warm welcome together with the presence of British government and WHO representatives and the University President at the graduation, made up for the cold outside. This is the third graduation to be attended by the President and each speaker, together with the students themselves, expressed their deep appreciation for the work of the College over the past decade in bringing the course to fruition. Now the work continues as the ownership of the teaching is handed over to the Palestinians themselves. more…

Tony Waterston and Jean Bowyer: Health and non-violent resistance in the West Bank

11 Apr, 11 | by BMJ Group

Tony Waterston The Arab revolution was in our minds during our regular visit to the West Bank for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) child health teaching programme. Would there be an occupied square in Ramallah? Would the youth be on the streets calling for political change? Would the doctors be out bravely supporting  demonstrators?  What would be the effect on the peace process? more…

Tony Waterston: A Turkish tale of children’s rights

21 Oct, 10 | by BMJ

Tony WaterstonIstanbul by train sounds a long way, but it offers a much lower carbon footprint than flying and was also a richer experience. Not quite the Orient Express, and the slow trundle through the Romanian countryside seemed interminable, but allowed plenty of reading time. And there were a few interesting encounters – which doesn’t happen when travelling by plane. more…

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