The ministry has demanded that the mega-companies reduce the price of sun protection products in order to enable the public to properly shield itself from the sun's dangerous rays. The ministry has further threatened that it would begin to import competing products and sell them at an inexpensive price if the issue was not resolved.
The skin cancer rate in Israel is among the highest in the world. According to the Health Ministry, between the years 2000-2008, there was a 40% increase in skin cancer incidence within the Jewish population in Israel.
A report published by the ministry in 2011 showed that men have a higher probability of developing melanoma than women. One in every 45 women will develop skin cancer, while one in every 36 men is at risk of developing the disease.
Despite the alarming data, the number of Israelis who use sunscreen on a regular basis is consistently low. Among the reasons for the infrequent use of protective measures against sun damage is the high cost of sunscreen.
By reducing the cost of sunscreen, the Health Ministry aims to increase the number of sunscreen users in Israel. In an effort to do so, Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzo recently convened the major sunscreen manufacturers in the country, and demanded that they reduce their prices.
Gamzo simultaneously approached the CEOs of the four major HMOs in Israel, and demanded that they work towards reducing the prices of sunblock sold in pharmacies operated by them across Israel.
"The state health services are not responsible for providing free sun protection products to its residents, leaving the consumer with an overpriced purchase he is unlikely to make," said Gamzo. "It is our duty to provide reasonably priced sun protection products.
"The Israeli public must protect itself from the sun's ultraviolet rays. The high rate of skin cancer in Israel derives from the large number of people from Europe and North America, whose fair skin is vulnerable to the desert climate here," Gamzo exclaimed.
"The price of sunscreen in Israel is 30%-50% higher than the price of similar products in Europe and the US," he added, claiming that the high cost of the products derives from the centralized economy in the country.
The CEO further urged the Israeli public to work towards reducing the prices by applying consumer pressure on the major manufactures. Gamzo released a clear warning to Israeli sunscreen manufacturers and suppliers, saying "if we don't see a significant drop in prices soon, we will work to import sun protection products, thus reducing prices in the market."