December 19, 2013

Dr. Victor Sidel (center) and Ruth Sidel (right)

APHA’s Peace Caucus held a special session at this year’s annual meeting in Boston to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Victor Sidel, one of the original founders of PSR and former president of APHA and IPPNW. Numerous people representing decades of work with Dr. Sidel spoke about the enormous influence he has had on their lives and work. His leadership on a broad array of issues has had a profound impact on those with whom he has come into contact over the course of his career: as Chair of the Social Medicine department at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NY, he influenced generations of medical students on the intersections between social justice and the practice of medicine; he and his wife Ruth Sidel were among the first U.S. health professionals to visit China in the early 1970s; and he has worked with Physicians for a National Health Plan to promote single-payer health care. The tribute to Dr. Sidel’s life and work was a key moment within the work of APHA’s Peace Caucus.

The Peace Caucus also presented numerous educational sessions on PSR’s core programs. Dr. Ira Helfand, past president of PSR and current North American Vice President of IPPNW, presented on the latest research regarding nuclear famine and the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. Dr. Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director of National PSR, spoke about the relationship between global warming and global conflict. Dr. Steve Gilbert, President of Washington PSR, discussed PSR’s work addressing the ongoing dangerous situation at Hanford Department of Energy Nuclear Weapons Facility, and he also presented on new work with which he is involved with colleagues illustrating women’s leadership in peace and social justice movements over the last century. An additional highlight of the Peace Caucus lineup was a special session addressing human rights issues within Israel and Palestine, including presentations by Dr. Ruchama Marton, co-founder of Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights, and Dr. Noam Chomsky, linguist, activist and political commentator.

Read the special issue of Social Medicine honoring Dr. Sidel and the Fall 2013 Peace Caucus newsletter.