Prevention is the best medicine

My name is Saima Akhtar and I am a doctor from Norway with Pakistani cultural background. As a doctor I cannot stand by and be idle to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, as they do not separate civilians from combating forces if they are ever to be used. As a doctor I cannot provide any treatment or cure if nuclear weapons are ever to be used with or without intention. Therefor prevention is the best medicine, and the best prevention is the full prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Saima Akhtar Photo: Thea Mjelstad

I am lucky to be present for the last week of the #NuclearBan negotiations at the United Nations through my organization IPPNW Norway, where I am the chairwoman. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is a non-partisan federation of national medical groups that represents doctors, medical students, other health workers and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a world free of nuclear weapons.

As a young student I got interested in the field of nuclear abolition when I attended IPPNW student meeting in Oslo. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical to what medical students could contribute with in this very difficult and advanced international issue. But after learning more about the issue and the catastrophic health consequences of nuclear weapons, I understood that as a doctor I cannot stand by idle and not raise my concerns.

Photo: Thea Mjelstad

Through my involvement in ICAN and IPPNW I have been lucky to have met so many interesting and aspiring people. Persons that have taught me how much impact civil society has. The treaty ban negotiations in the UN right now are a direct result of years of adamancy and hard work from civil society and countries that are tired of the still stand of nuclear weapons countries who do not wish to change status quo. I am proud and humble to be a part of this process that will change history forever.

Changemaker, Nei til Atomvåpen, Norska Leger mot Atomvåpen (IPPNW Norway), Norweigans People’s Aid and ICAN Norway with the Norweigan Mission. Photo: Thea Mjelstad

On Friday we will most probably have a treaty that prohibits nuclear weapons. These are very exciting times. The ban will be a game changer forever. This is history in the making people and we made this happen!