The troubling state of Israel's public health services, especially in state hospitals, was illustrated in a comparative OECD report, part ot the Health Care Quality Indicators project.
Since joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2010, Israel has been featured in its annual comparative development reports. The complete report on Israel's public health was prepared by senior health and economic officials, and is expected to be published later this week.
The report painted a grim picture of the state of Israeli hospitals. The overall rate of hospital beds in Israel is considerably low compared to other OECD countries - Israel ranked third last with an average 1.9 beds per 1,000 people, compared to the general 3.4 average.
As a result, the overall occupancy rate in hospitals is very high - 96.3% compared to an OECD average of 75.9% and patients are being discharged too soon. The average length of stay in Israeli hospitals is only four days, compared an OECD average of 6.3.
The number of nurses in Israel is also very low, with 4.8 nurses per 1,000 people compared to an OECD average of 8.7.
The report also showed that Israel's national health expenditure is 7.9% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), lower than the OECD's average 9.6%.
Public spending on healthcare, too, is considerably low at 58.5% of the total health expenditure, compared to the OECD's average of 71.7%.
Higher life expectancy
Nevertheless, the report revealed some good indicators. Israel's population is among the youngest in the OECD, with only 10% of the population over the age of 65, compared to the OECD average of 15.3%.
Life expectancy in Israel is higher than the OECD average. The average life expectancy of an Israeli male is three years above the OECD average (76.9 years compared to 76.9 years ), and that of an Israeli female is 83.6, placing it eighth after Japan, Australia, France and Switzerland.
Infant mortality in Israel is also one of the lowest in the organization, with 3.7 deaths per 1,000 births compared to the OECD's 4.3. This rate is lower than that of the US and UK but higher than Spain and Greece.
More positive indicators were recorded in the area of preventive medicine. Obesity rates in Israel are 16%, significantly lower than those of in US (28.1%), but still higher than Italy (10.3%) and France (12.9%).