TORONTO — Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Arnold Noyek has devoted his career to fighting congenital deafness here and in the Middle East, and in the process he’s helped to build bridges between Arabs and Israelis.
To celebrate his achievements, the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation is holding a tribute dinner on Sunday, June 3, at the Fairmont Royal York under the patronage of Prince Firas Raad of Jordan and Israel’s consul general in Toronto, Amir Gissin. Proceeds will go to the Dr. Arnold M. Noyek Legacy Fund being set up by the foundation.
In 1984, Dr. Arnold Noyek founded the Canada International Scientific Exchange Program (CISEPO), based at Mount Sinai and linked to the University of Toronto and York University, as an international network of academics, researchers, educators, students and health professionals working together to improve health care and education under a Canadian umbrella.
In 1995, the late King Hussein of Jordan invited Noyek to build relations between Israelis and Arabs in the health sector following the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994. Palestinian academics and their institutions joined the effort in 1997.
Noyek began organizing conferences across the Middle East in Tel Aviv, Amman, Nablus, Gaza, Haifa and Jerusalem. Through a series of CISEPO- and U of T-sponsored continuing education events, Noyek discovered high rates of genetic neural hearing loss in the region due to a high number of cousins marrying within extended families.
“The big-kept secret is the factor of genetics. We discovered that hearing loss due to genetic problems was six to 10 times more prevalent in the Middle East than any other place on the globe,” Noyek said, “and this was a direct result of intermarriage.”
The goal of CISEPO is to educate local doctors and health professionals to properly diagnose and manage hearing-loss problems in newborns, infants and children. Universal screening for hearing loss in newborns is, Noyek hopes, the first step to providing care to needy Middle East populations, while, at the same time, building people-to-people relations.
“We are a team of Canadian, American, Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian individuals and institutions,” Noyek said.
“CISEPO is creating opportunities for peaceful coexistence, building co-operation and trust, identifying and sharing information about health problems experienced by children and families of every background together in Canada and the Middle East to better the lives of ordinary people.”
Noyek was born to Irish Jews in Dublin, Ireland and immigrated to Canada in 1940 as an only child with parents who were socially conscious, as well as generous contributors to the community.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was in grade school. I liked the idea of helping people,” Noyek recalled.
After graduating from U of T’s medical school, Noyek trained in otolaryngology – the ear, nose and throat specialty – at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York.
On staff at Mount Sinai since 1966, Noyek served as otolaryngologist-in-chief from 1989 to 2002. He’s also a consultant with Baycrest, as well as a professor at U of T.
Due to the efforts of researchers in Noyek’s department at Mount Sinai Hospital, Ontario adopted universal newborn hearing screening as policy in 2001, making the province a world pioneer. This policy became the model for CISEPO’s parallel efforts in the Middle East.
“Dr. Arnold Noyek is for me the ultimate proof that one person can truly change the world. Armed with endless devotion, unparalleled resourcefulness and undeterred persistence, he has touched the lives of thousands of families all across the Middle East,” Gissin said. “No other Canadian I know has made such a difference on the ground among the people of the Middle East – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – and I am very proud to call him a friend.”
For information on the dinner, call 416-586-4800, ex. 7329.