The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) Medical Corps’ emergency field hospital has been recognised by the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) as the best in the world, becoming the first to receive the highest possible ranking under the UN agency’s new classification system for disaster response teams.

The hospital is run by Medical Corps doctors, soldiers, and reservists, and provides medical care in disaster sites around the world. It has helped in many countries including Haiti, Philippines, the Syrian border and most recently Nepal.

Dr Ofer Merin, commander of the IDF General Staff’s Surgical Hospital Unit and Deputy Director General of Shaare Zedek shared that the process for earning Level 3 status was a valuable experience,

“It’s not just that we got the stamp that says ‘we’re the best team.’ We gained a lot from this process, which means our future patients will gain a lot…When we were given recognition, the president of the WHO said, ‘The world should learn from Israel how to operate in disaster areas with the right ethics. For me, representing the Medical Corps, it was a great privilege to hear them saying that other countries should learn from Israel how to operate within the right ethical values…This is a great pride, a great honour for Israel, the IDF, and the Medical Corps…”

The Level 3 classification from the WHO meaning it is capable of managing ‘complex inpatient referral surgical care, including intensive care’.  It has also been recognised for specialised care including its burn unit, dialysis, obstetrics and gynaecology and reconstructive plastic surgery.

“When an objective organisation like the UN says that one should learn from us, it’s very moving” said Dr Merin.  

This classification will give Israel ‘preferential access’ to disaster zones, shortlisting them for entry into highly affected countries in need of foreign medical support.