The Health Ministry, too often known as a bundle of red tape with staffers
reluctant to share information with the public, will next week be ready to
answer your questions. Kol Habriut (The Voice of Health) – a phone contact
center located in Kiryat Malachi – will on Monday launch a unique service that
accepts calls from around the country and answers queries six days a week. The
center can be reached by dialing *5400.
“We hardly dealt with this need
in the past,” said Natalio Rozenblum, a veteran ministry staffer in Jerusalem
who is responsible for organization management and methods, in an interview
Tuesday with The Jerusalem Post.
When Prof. Ronni Gamzu – the ministry’s
director-general since June of last year – was appointed, he met with Rozenblum
and discussed how to improve service to the public.
The two decided that
a telephone information service on matters dealt with by the ministry itself
(but not the state hospitals and other ministry- owned institutions) was
Within a record 12 months, the service began as a pilot
program, and on Monday, it will be fully in place. Rozenblum said that a state
tender that gives priority to employment in the periphery chose the development
down of Kiryat Malachi, which is located 17 km. southeast of
Twenty-three people, all but one of them women, were hired and
sent to a training course to familiarize them with ministry services,
departments, divisions, units and branches and to look for information via a
Those requiring personal information will need to supply
their identity card numbers.
Working two shifts a day – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
on weekdays and between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
on Fridays and the eves of
holidays – the telephone operators will cope with queries in Hebrew, English,
Arabic and Russian; at least two Arabs from villages in the area work during
each shift, said Rozenblum.
The pilot program began with information
related to some of the departments and units that have been most difficult to
reach, said Rozenblum.
These include the department of medical
professions; pharmaceutical division; Israel Food Service; medical equipment
licensing unit; mental health and geriatric divisions; public health service;
quality assessment complaints office; rehabilitation and mobility division; and
the ministry ombudswoman’s office.
As the fully fledged contact service
develops, it will gradually expand to include district health offices, the
dental health service, the ministry’s chief psychologist, epidemiology and
public tenders office.
Even suggestions for improvement in the ministry
will be accepted and sent to their proper address.
But as the staff are
not physicians or other medical professionals, questions relating to medical
matters will be referred to relevant offices.
Among the most common
questions from callers so far, said Rozenblum, have been queries on whether and
when individuals received a ministry license, if a doctor who calls himself a
specialist is indeed one; and complaints to the ombudswoman (although these must
be presented later in writing).
Rozenblum said that while the Transport
Ministry’s Licensing Bureau does have such a contact center, the Health
Ministry’s Kol Habriut is the first to provide one for all the ministry’s
The official ceremony in Kiryat Malachi will be attended by Deputy
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, Minister for Improvement of Government
Information Michael Eitan, Kiryat Malachi Mayor Motti Malka and other officials.