Health should be the major social topic on the public agenda during the election campaign, the Public Team for Health Quality and a committee of health experts of the social protest movement said on Wednesday.

They called on every party list running to give top priority to health issues. The activists said that the public health system was a significant part of the social net, but that it was “increasingly torn.”

The financial burden on residents who have to make many co-payments to receive the services they need is becoming heavier, while public hospitals are increasingly crowded and private medical care is growing, they continued.

Since the summer of 2011, the lobbying team – which represents a variety of socialand health-oriented organizations – has been working on a detailed position paper for advancing social justice in health. They include the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

The position paper calls for strengthening health infrastructure, increasing the number of hospital beds, doctors and nurses, especially in the periphery; separating public and private health services; expanding the basket of health services, reducing co-payments for medications among the economically disadvantaged; adding geriatric nursing and psychiatric services to the health basket; boosting preventive medicine; cancelling privatization of the School Health Service; establishing a national program to reduce air pollution; and increasing public awareness of the connection between gender and health and increasing research in the field.

Every candidate for the 19th Knesset will receive information material on health issues and be urged to support the team’s positions. A public information campaign will accompany these efforts to influence candidates.

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