ISRAEL HEALING WITH HUMOR
Dr. Amnon Raviv, a medical clown, uses humor for patients with serious illnesses and states, “is a survival order – a weapon to fight disease.” For the past 15 years, Raviv has worked as a medical clown at The Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus.
Known for earning the first doctorate in the world for medical clowning, Raviv was in South Africa during August sharing his expertise and assisting the newly established NGO Dr. Heartbeat with medical-clown training.
“Many studies indicate that medical clowning reduces anxiety and pain in patients – children and adults – and thus allows for better coping with the disease and its consequences. We know that laughter causes the secretion of hormones called endorphins that strengthen the immune system. The special empathetic connection that the medical clown creates with the patients reinforces and strengthens them,” Raviv explained.
Adi Shachar, founder of Dr. Heartbeat, intends to pioneer the professional skill of medical clowning in South Africa. “The professional skill will be targeted at unemployed youth and aligned with the credentials of the Youth Empowerment Service [YES] Campaign,” recently launched by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
South Africa “faces a lot of challenges, with an enormous amount of trauma, stress and anxiety in many places…The medical clown has the ability to put smiles on the faces of very sick people and help their families make sense of the trauma they are experiencing,” and this should be encouraged.
On his visit to South Africa, Raviv told the Post that medical clowning should be present in every department and in every hospital around the world.
“I feel privileged to present medical clowning to the academic and medical establishment in South Africa and lay the foundation for cooperation. [I feel privileged] to train new medical clowns to work throughout the country and bring joy and humor to thousands of patients, children and adults across the country – and perhaps bring the message of medical clowning to the entire African continent,” he said.