healthcare in Israel
Israel’s healthcare advances have been successful globally as well as nationally. Due to constant and careful reforms in both the healthcare system and technology, healthcare in Israel excels in many areas.

Healthcare Plans

In 1995, Israel enacted universal health coverage to all of its permanent residents and citizens. The Ministry of Health is responsible for governing the healthcare system while the local government has limited involvement. Within the ministry are various bodies focused on specific aspects within that system. The Benefits Package Committee, for example, zones in on new health technology to add to the National Health Insurance Benefits Package. The committee also assesses the development of new medications. The benefits package within each plan must include hospital, primary, specialty, mental health, maternity care and prescriptions.

Israel has a higher percentage of young citizens compared to the number of elderly residents. This percentage factors well into its health statistics, but the nation has recognized that those governing healthcare in Israel must be more appropriately committed when it comes to the elderly and long-term care. Recent measures are meant to improve conditions for long-term care. Such measures include providing means-tested government subsidies for informal caregivers and better access to clinicians through in-home care and telemedicine.

While every citizen has the right to the universal healthcare plan, not every citizen has suitable access. Important barricades that keep those living in poverty from receiving proper care are the social, economic, and technological necessities needed to acquire health services. As present times generate larger limitations, crucial services are only attainable by those who are equipped with the essential resources. For example, some may face challenges like accessing care during lockdowns and receiving crucial health information such as data and guidance concerning COVID-19.

Recent Major Reforms

The Ministry of Health is carefully examining and gradually improving healthcare in Israel. Some of the most recent changes include:

  • Communication: Those working in healthcare facilities are prioritizing Electronic Health Records for better information exchange between care centers.

  • Diet: The Ministry of Health is mandating food labeling, restricting unhealthy food advertisements, and placing a higher value on nutrition served in schools and other public institutions.

  • Expanding the roles of nurses: Nurses’ responsibilities are growing to allow doctors to better balance their highly demanding tasks. Treatment, diagnosis, and prescriptions in cases that are considered simple to treat have been placed in the capability of specialist nurses.

  • Healthcare extending beyond the insured: Free clinics that concentrate on both physical and mental health are rising in number for asylum seekers and refugees. The need for these clinics was based on severe physical injuries and deeply rooted PTSD that many suffer after surviving realities such as torture camps and kidnapping.

Startup Central

Israel excels in medical innovations and research, making it one of the most technologically advanced nations. Some of the areas the country has proved transformative in are computer, agricultural and medical technology.

Elevated venture capital investment mainly contributes to Israel’s prosperity. The country fosters entrepreneurship and through strong government support, the country thrives on creativity. Multinational companies such as IBM and Philips have organized research and development centers in Israel. These multinational companies are supporting the country’s economy to a great extent and aid the government in major funding towards developing medical technology. The country’s focus on new technology has already served them well. Current revolutionary technologies include:

  •  The SniffPhone system: Quickly diagnosing cancer by simply breathing into a device the size of a smartphone.

  • The tuberculosis patch: The working development is a skin patch that can diagnose and monitor TB.

Facing and Fighting COVID-19

Israel has a much lower aggregate of mortality when it comes to COVID-19. Some of the major contributing factors include:

  • Early and strict quarantine rules: These rules include general lockdowns, social distancing, mask requirements and entry into Israel being restricted to one location

  • The high number of doctors: The more trained professionals, the better the aid and response to those infected with COVID-19. Israel has six medical schools, and the government largely supports the yearly tuition. Each school is a public, nonprofit university.

  • The low rate of cardiovascular disease: This condition is one of the major risks of mortality once infected with Covid-19.

While the impoverished lack access to Israel’s healthcare system, the nation itself has the potential to make innovative adaptations and improvements to overcome the obstacles to access.

Amy Schlagel
Photo: U.N.

Israeli Refugees

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 left many of the Palestinians who lived in these lands without homes or basic rights. The current politics of Israel leaves many of these people without access to services and human rights. Israel houses tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, as well as many more Palestinians, both within and outside its borders. Here are 10 facts about Israeli refugees.

10 Facts About Israeli Refugees

  1. Those seeking asylum in Israel do not have any rights or eligibility for social services.
  2. The Israeli government tries to push many refugees out of the country by detaining them, not accepting their asylum claims, not allowing them to participate in social services and through repatriation.
  3. The Supreme Court of Israel does not approve of the government’s treatment of Israeli refugees, specifically those of African descent. In two separate decisions, the Court has asked the Israeli government for policies that will take basic human rights principles into considerations for African refugees. Although the government did not comply, the Court’s demands for more comprehensive legislation concerning refugees is a step in the right direction.
  4. Palestinian refugees who re-enter Israel are considered “infiltrators” for crossing the border under the Prevention of Infiltration Law. The Israeli government has considered them a threat to national security since it passed the law in the 1950s.
  5. As of 2008, the Israeli government also considers African refugees “infiltrators.” The government passed an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law in 2011, officially making the presence of African refugees in Israel unlawful.
  6. African refugees protested in 2014 in order for the Israeli government to recognize their rights. According to the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), this was the first time that the asylum-seekers had distinct leaders associated with the movement. The height of the movement involved about 20,000 refugees and supporters. The peaceful approach helped to give government officials and the public more empathy for these refugees. The foundations of these protests will hopefully pave the way to legislative and societal changes in favor of refugees.
  7. Palestinian refugees are among the largest refugee populations in the world. According to the Palestinian Return Centre, about one in every three refugees from around the world is Palestinian.
  8. Many Palestinian refugees have remained close to their places of origins in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. More than one and a quarter million Palestinian refugees live in the nearly 60 official refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Others live in unofficial camps.
  9. The Palestinian Return Centre reports that some of the factors keeping Palestinians in camps include political and social struggles, as well as the physical safety of the camps. The refugee camps also stand as a symbol for the temporal situation of a people still asking to return to their homes.
  10. Even after many decades of displacement due to struggles with the Israeli government, Palestinians cannot return to their homes within the state of Israel in most cases. The peace process between Israel and Palestine has been slow, and most of the deliberations have not accounted for refugee rights.

The Israeli government must find a way to ensure the rights of Israeli refugees, whether they are from Palestine, Africa or anywhere else. Considering the current lack of legislative support for Israeli refugees, the refugee protests and pushes from the Supreme Court are a crucial foundation for ensuring the rights of these people.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr