• Reducing Health Disparities is not the responsibility of Health System Alone


    On Monday June 14, five Israeli NGOs published a unique position paper entitled “Working Today to Narrow the Gaps of Tomorrow”. The paper details the serious gaps in the health of various communities in Israeli society: between Arabs and Jews; between Ethiopian immigrants and the general population; between income support recipients, and others. The organizations found that the Arab and Ethiopian communities as well as recipients of income assistance suffer from various ailments to a much greater degree than the rest of the population.

    The paper outlines the principles of a social policy designed to reduce the gaps in health status and in health services. In it, the organizations call on the Prime Minister to initiate a multi-dimensional national program to reduce health gaps. The organizations also propose quantitative goals and steps to realize the plan.

    On June 14, participating organizations held a press conference in Tel Aviv to launch the paper. Photos of the press conference are available for free use on ACRI’s site (click on the links).

    Barbara Swirski, Director of the Adva Center: “Israel must join developed states in working to reduce health disparities. Despite efforts by the Health Ministry and health funds to this end, Israel’s health policy does not include concrete steps to reduce the gaps. Israel must channel the information provided toward the formulation of a national health plan to reduce health gaps.”

    Dr. Nadav Davidovitz, Chair of the Center for the Study of Health Policy in the Negev at Ben-Gurion University: “In contrast to the accepted perception, health services are not the most influential factor in people’s health; rather the most important factors are the environment and human behavior. As such, the Health Ministry must lead the process of reducing health disparities in cooperation with other ministries and authorities.”

    Fekadu Gadamo, Executive Director of Tene-Briut for the Promotion of the health of Ethiopian Israelis, detailed the difficulties facing various minority populations and communities within Israel in terms of language and the lack of culturally appropriate health services. Tene-Briut attempts to reduce the discrepancies through translation services and by adapting services to the needs of Ethiopian Israelis. “The Health Ministry must adopt these programs,” Gadamo said.

    Mohammed Khatib, Director of the Health Rights Center at the Galilee Society, detailed the connection between environment and economy, and health. “Arab citizens, most of whom reside in Israel’s geographic periphery, suffer from the inequality in health services, availability of medical equipment, and infrastructure,” he said. “A national program to reduce health disparities must include cultural adaptation to various communities as well as the provision of pre-conditions to good health.”

    Read the full report in English online.

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