According to data compiled by the Knesset's Research and Information Center, based on figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research, only 0.7% of the 2011 research and development budget was dedicated to health, putting the State of Israel at the second place from the bottom.
For the sake of comparison, the United States topped the list in 2010 with about 54% of its research and development budget allotted to health studies.
"When the Health Ministry encourages transferring responsibility to private economic bodies in the field of research, it is essentially increasing the damage," said Science and Technology Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).
"We are at the bottom of the global ranking in the level of governmental investment in health research. There is no doubt that we will feel the damage in the coming years," he warned.
The discussion was held in light of the effect of the Hadassah Medical Center's economic crisis on the hospital's health research, but it was revealed that the overall budgets of all research low. There are still no official figures in the years that have passed since then, but the trend is likely not a positive one.
Health Ministry representative Benny Leshem said during a discussion about research budgets held at the Science and Technology Committee some six months ago, "Four committees sat down. They all said that medical research much have at least NIS 250 million (about $70 million) a year. We're at NIS 9.6 million ($2.7 million)."
The total research budget in Israel in 2013 is NIS 1.27 billion ($360 million), which means that also this year the health research budget is only 0.7%.
"Without money you can't conduct research," says Prof. Yakov Naparstek, head of the Division of Medicine at the Hadassah Medical Center. "The investment in a researcher in Israel is five times lower compared to the Western world. A medical research doctor is a different doctor; he can encounter patients' problems and find a solution for them, which can benefit patients and lead to a financial profit for the State.
"Basic research is expensive and clinical research is even more expensive. Our estimate is that the jobs of researchers and the rest of the employees, the materials and more amount to NIS 150 million ($42 million), while every year we receive NIS 30 million ($8.45 million) from grants and NIS 25 million ($7 million) from donations. The Health Ministry is a very small player in our research budget."