פרופ' דרור מבורך, הדסה עין כרם
Prof. Dror Mevurach
The Israeli Air Force pays tribute to the nation's medical workers in a special flyby on Independence Day

Israel's hospitals need life support of their own

Opinion: Will politicians ever understand importance of increasing expenditure on national healthcare system, not just by expanding drugs Israelis are entitled to, but by hiring more staff, improving infrastructure, geriatric and psychiatric services?

Prof. Dror Mevorach |
Published: 01.10.21 , 23:30
The unpredicted and unpredictable coronavirus has turned our world upside down, throwing everything good and bad about Israel's healthcare system into sharp relief.
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  • Israel's healthcare system is facing an infrastructural problem. At the moment, every citizen pays a health tax to the National Insurance Institute, which in turn transfers that money to the four health funds (Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet and Leumit), which ultimately pay the hospitals.
    מטס הצדעה לצוותים הרפואיים ביום העצמאותמטס הצדעה לצוותים הרפואיים ביום העצמאות
    The Israeli Air Force pays tribute to the nation's medical workers in a special flyby on Independence Day
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    But these payments never cover hospitals' annual running costs and they end up receiving extra funding from the Health Ministry and the Treasury.
    This impossible budgetary cycle has led to Israel's health expenditure gradually declining to just 7.3% of the country's GPD - significantly lower than European countries such as France and Germany.
    It has also led to a steady deterioration of the healthcare infrastructure while simultaneously fostering its dependence on what is essentially government largesse.
    Will the politicians ever understand the importance of increasing government expenditure on the national healthcare system - not just by expanding the list of medicines Israelis are entitled to, but also by hiring more staff, improving hospital infrastructure and bolstering geriatric and psychiatric services?
    Medics in protective gear against coronavirus with a patient at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv  Medics in protective gear against coronavirus with a patient at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv
    Medical professionals attend a coronavirus patient at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Zlila Helman)
    We have all heard so many sad stories in the past year as coronavirus infections and deaths soared: the suffering of those who lost loved ones; parents and children struggling to acclimatize to a new normal; business owners and citizens who have seen their livelihoods disappear.
    We have been delivered a blow to our overall sense of security, losing our control over things that we took for granted.
    But we have also seen that wondrous Israeli ingenuity come to life yet again, with an incredible mobilization of hospitals and healthcare workers.
    Will our politicians understand the urgent need to help the healthcare providers who are stepping up to the plate in our darkest hour and give us a healthcare system that is not constantly on the brink?

    Prof. Dror Mevorach is the director of the coronavirus ward at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem
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