The government unanimously approved the expansion of subsidized dental care for
children up to the age of 12, thus adding a potential 267,000 children who may
benefit from the program.
But the majority of parents have not taken
advantage of the subsidized care, which was initiated by Deputy Health Minister
Ya’acov Litzman, who regularly praises the expansion and takes credit for
The care will be expanded starting July 1 at a cost of NIS 80
million, the government said, but Prof. Jonathan Mann, head of community
dentistry and former dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental
Medicine in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post
that this was
Mann, who has in the past demanded that independent
assessment of Litzman’s program be undertaken to explore both its effectiveness
and the best way to send the money on dental care for children, said: “The idea
of providing treatment for free is important, but I still believe that
continuing the process with no real evaluation of the reform is a great
Analysis is available on the number of treatments provided,
yet, said Mann, “not a single word has been given on primary prevention for the
total population, nothing on real expenses of the program or on the deficit of
the health funds – which are paid by the government and responsible for
providing the care.”
“There has been no independent evaluation of the
quality of dental care, including satisfaction of caregivers and patients from
the twoyear- old old reform, which has been run for enough time to run such
evaluations,” Mann added.
At the opening of the cabinet meeting, Prime
Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu said that the program
was initiated by Litzman, and it will likely be expanded
Sunday’s approval of the expansion “means that 1.5 million
children will get free dental care. It used to cost a fortune and be beyond the
means of many children. Deputy Minister Ya’acov Litzman should be
congratulated,” Netanyahu said.
Litzman said the reform “brought social
justice to Israeli children. We will continue and include dental care for
children up to the age of 14 during the coming year and work to expand it up to
the age of 18.”
A total of 1.23 million children up to age 10 have been
eligible up to this point. But last year, the number of children up to age eight
who received any treatment totaled just 265,000.
The ministry said that
between ages eight and 10, “Forty percent received dental treatment under the
program, “which is a great achievement.”
To which Mann responded: “Forty
percent of what? I have no idea where this figure came from.”
ministry said it “does not [use] privatized supervision and quality control of
the treatments,” and that instead, the ministry’s own dental service officials
had calculated the figure.
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