(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although the chairman of the judges committee was a fervent Turkish Muslim and
the rotating president of the International Public Relations Association a
Muslim from Indonesia – and the contest was held a few days after the Turkish
flotilla imbroglio in May – Maccabi Health Services has been awarded first prize
in the environmental protection category of IPRA’s international PR campaign
The Golden World Award will be presented to the health fund
and 19 winners in other categories at a ceremony in London on November
The winning Israeli project was a campaign launched before Pessah in
2009 to collect medications beyond their expiry data at Maccabi community clinic
branches around the country.
“We are very proud that in such a political
constellation, we succeeded both on the professional and international level,”
Ido Hadari, Maccabi’s director of communications and governmental affairs, told
The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
“We thought we had no chance – especially
with a prominent Star of David in our logo,” Hadari said.
“More than 350
projects from 42 countries had been entered into the public relations campaign
competition, among them Microsoft, Gilette, Proctor and Gamble and the state of
Queensland in Australia. We were among five finalists in our category of
environmental quality, and we won.”
In the 1990s, the Israeli
organization called ELEM that assists disadvantaged and trouble youths received
a prize in the IPRA competition for its “light up a building”
Maccabi was the first medical organization to initiate the
collection of old medications and their burial – at its expense – at the Ramat
Hovav safe dumping center in the Negev. Drugs that are thrown into the garbage
bin and deposited in ordinary dumps can seep into the groundwater and damage
health, Hadari said.
Clalit Health Services, the largest health fund,
liked the idea and copied it this year from Maccabi, the second-largest health
insurer, he said.
The idea for increasing the health fund’s involvement
in community affairs came from Maccabi director-general Dr.
while Dr. Nurit Friedman, its head of assessment and research, ran the
Without spending money on advertisements, Hadari was
able to get dozens of media outlets interested in the story of collecting
unused, outdated drugs, and it was widely publicized.
material in Hebrew for the general public, Hebrew for the haredi community,
Arabic and Russian was distributed in clinics.
Hadari also organized a
public survey beforehand, to find out whether Maccabi members knew tossing drugs
into the garbage posed environmental and health dangers; most did not. But many
were willing to bring the packets to the health fund’s clinics.
Maccabi learned of the competition, it entered with a 1,000-word abstract, and
when it learned that it was a finalist, a major presentation was sent in to the
judges’ committee in Istanbul.
The sturdy green metal cabinets were
affixed to the wall and designed so drug addicts could not pull the packages out
from the slot at the top. In the past 16 months, about 200,000 packages with
around 6 million pills have been collected, Hadari said. “It was a huge
Inspired by the Maccabi campaign, Hadash MK Dov Henin has since
initiated a private member’s bill to require pharmacies, hospitals and
to collect and safely dispose of expired drugs at Ramat Hovav.
collected over 15,000 liters of packages each month,” Hadari said. “We
that Clalit took up our initiative in its clinics and that it inspired
an MK to
present a bill to the Knesset.”