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Bedouins complain: Polio vaccinations stop short of our communities
Mobile clinic failed to show up, baby clinic in Rahat closed, Bedouins accuse Health Ministry. Rahat mayor says made effort to increase awareness, but residents had nowhere to turn
The Health Ministry launched a Polio vaccine project in Israel's south on Monday, but according to reports, Bedouin residents had nowhere to turn.

 

A ministry van that was supposed to travel around Bedouin villages and administer the vaccine was not sent and according to the mayor of Rahat, nurses were transferred elsewhere.

 

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An official Health Ministry statement noted that during the campaign's first week, most nurses will man Tipat Halav baby clinics, and that "later on, we will send out vans."

 

However, according to sources with the ministry, the decision not to send the van was also made in accordance with the fact that the fast of Ramadan was still ongoing, meaning that people would not be available to attend clinics.

 


Rahar Tipat Halav baby clinic Tuesday (Photo: Roee Idan)

 

Hijar Abu Shareb, director of an association promoting health issues of Israel's Bedouin community, admitted that "residents are preoccupied with errands regarding the end of the holiday Thursday and as a result show up less," but insisted that nonetheless one mobile clinic will not do.

 

"One van is going to be enough for so many villages? How many vaccines can it give per day? And how are people supposed to know it's coming anyway?" Abu Shareb asked.

 

She added that the community was uninformed as to the purpose of the new vaccination, and the Bedouin residents did not receive any explanation on the vaccination process and were therefore apprehensive.

  

Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban added that "I bent over backwards to increase awareness and get people to vaccinate," but apparently when he called the ministry he found out that nurses were transferred to other locations and only three were supposed to stay in Rahat.

 

Abu Sahiban claimed that Rahat, where some 50,000 people reside, was neglected.

 

"People call me and say that I told them to come and that they want to get the vaccine, but there's no one in the Tipat Halav center. From what I gathered, just one station remained open."

 

The Health Ministry said in response that "nurses are transferred between locations according to the workload. The south district's chief doctor has taken the responsibility to increase vaccination coverage in Rahat, and will coordinate the effort with the mayor."

 

Since Monday, several thousands of children were vaccinated, and according to estimates, some 150,000 children, aged 0-9, are to be vaccinated over the next six weeks.

 

Prof. Itamar Grotto, manager of the public office for medical services, said that within a week his office is to decide whether to vaccinate all children in Israel.

 

 

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