As part of their efforts, council officials approached the Nefesh B'Nefesh foundation, which offers grants to Jewish doctors from English-speaking countries in order to bring them to Israel. However, none of them agreed to settle in the Arava region.
An attempt to find a doctor from the Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat did not fare well either.
"Everyone wants to live in the center of Israel," Central Arava Council head Ezra Ravins told Ynet. "Should our doctor, God forbid, be called in for a rescue assignment, which happens often, there would be no doctor for the residents."
Nevertheless, Ravins tries to stay positive. "We are patient – I am sure we will be able to find a doctor."
'Matter of life and death'
Elad Seker, Arava Rescue Unit chief, said a doctor shortage can cost human lives. "The Arava road is a deadly road crossed by hundreds of thousands of passengers every year. It creates a massive load on the medical staff," he explained.
"The Arava region is sparse and there are great distances to be traveled between the various communities. A doctor shortage is a matter of life and death. If the only doctor in the region goes away for advanced studies, which has happened, the region is left with no doctor at all. "
Seker added that the great distance between the Arava communities and the Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat complicates the matter further. "If we lived a reasonable distance from a hospital or any kind of medical center we could get by, but the distance to Soroka is a 90-minute drive," he noted.
"Granted, we're a small community compared with other cities, but should something happen, it's important that our residents receive immediate attention. Currently, we depend upon God's mercy."
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