The Imams Forum was established by AJEEC with the aim of promoting health issues and reducing gaps between Jewish and Arab-Bedouin communities in the Negev in the field of healthcare by engaging local, Muslim, religious leaders in the process.
The forum brings together about 40 well-known and popular imams from the Bedouin community in the Negev who belong to various movements and serve as health ambassadors in their communities. Every year, forum participants take part in courses and trainings in collaboration with various professional bodies including Soroka Hospital, Ben-Gurion University, the Arab Medical Association in the Negev, HMOs, MADA, “Beterem – Safe Kids Israel”, and more.
The trainings include workshops facilitated by professors and senior officials from Soroka Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine at Ben Gurion University in various fields including: prevention of chronic diseases, prevention of household accidents, sensible nutrition, genetics, reduction of hereditary diseases and birth defects, importance of pregnancy follow-up, importance of physical activity, the role of the imam in promoting community healthcare, and more. First aid training is provided by MADA personnel, at the end of which, the imams receive a MADA Certificate, first aid kits, and defibrillators to be placed in their mosques.
The Imams Forum was established as a creative solution in accordance with AJEEC’s community approach, making information accessible to broad audiences in Bedouin society. In the training workshops, there are open discussions between the participants and the professionals about the variety of options available to the imams to deliver the knowledge they have acquired to as wide of an audience as possible in the community. The imams pass on the knowledge they have acquired during their Friday sermons in the mosques and during their personal counseling in resolving sensitive issues in local families and the community.
The immense importance and contribution of the Imams Forum was proven during the Coronavirus crisis. The Ministry of Health and various health agencies turned to the Forum extensively to deliver information to the public about the Corona epidemic, vaccinations, and more.