Health Ministry must spend money to save money
Health Scan: Gov't not really saving by delaying the introduction of new vaccines into the basket of health services.
Scientists in a laboratory Photo: iStockphoto
The government is not really saving money for the public purse by delaying the
introduction of new vaccines into the basket of health services. Adding some new
pediatric vaccines against pneumonia to the Health Ministry’s basket of health
services in 2009/2010 has reduced the number of children hospitalized for
complications of the infection by dozens of percentage points, according to
experts at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
One vaccine, called Prevnar,
protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal pneumonia that could cause ear
infections, meningitis or pneumonia, said Prof. Francis Mimouni, director of the
Dana-Dwek Children’s Hospital at Sourasky. The rate of such infections used to
be 20 per 100,000 children, but in the past two years the number of cases has
dropped to five per 100,000.
Mimouni said he was “not surprised” by the
findings, as all the studies showed that the vaccine was effective for all
groups, including children at high risk of infection. The vaccine has
been on the market (and given to US children) for over a decade, “but the reason
that it was added to the basket only recently was economic and
Another pediatric vaccine added recently (in 2010) by the
ministry is for protection against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea and
other complications among youngsters. Three years ago, said Mimouni, half of the
beds in pediatrics departments were filled in the winter by children and babies
with rotavirus complications. They needed infusions after becoming
dehydrated. “Today, we hardly see such cases.”
According to Dr.
Galia Soan-Grisaro, an infectious disease expert at the children’s hospital, for
each child taken to the emergency room with such symptoms there are scores who
remain at home. One need only think about the loss of workdays for their parents
to understand that providing the vaccines reduces harm not only to health but
also to the economy, she said.
require food manufacturers to put ever-more-detailed labels on their products,
young Israelis do not adequately understand what the printed information means.
A new study conducted by Health Ministry Jerusalem district health officer Dr.
Chen Stein-Zamir and colleagues, which was published in the journal Appetite,
found that young adults’ understanding of nutritional information presented on
food labels is inadequate.
“Nutritional labeling of packaged foods,
mandated by law, includes details of the food content and composition –
information that can affect individual and public lifestyle decisions and health
status. We studied the comprehension of food labels among 120 young adults with
a mean age 24.1 years attending an international travel immunization clinic,”
the researchers wrote. “Each participant was presented with 10 food packages of
common local products and interviewed regarding the label’s content. Most
subjects (77.5 percent) reported that they took note of the food labels; women,
the more educated and those engaging regularly in physical exercise were more
inclined to do so. Out of a possible 10 points the overall median comprehension
score was 6.0.”
The Jerusalem district authors added that the nutritional
table section of the food label was understood the best, and the nutritional
declaration section the least.
“The subjects thought they understood the
food labels better than they actually did; 43.9% stated that they understood
them very well, whereas only 27.2% achieved high scores.”
concluded that “this inadequate comprehension of food labels represents a missed
opportunity to provide essential information necessary for healthy food choices
at the individual level. A combination of strategies is necessary, including
improving food labels (simplification and standardization) combined with
targeted educational programs.”
BOOST TO BEDUIN SURGEON
Abu-Arar, Israel’s only Beduin general surgeon, recently was sent to a special
week-long training course in England. The 34- year-old physician, who lives in
the village of Arara in the Negev, was one of 11 young specialists sent to
participate in the Basingstoke course on advances in colorectal surgery. The
group, led by Prof. Alex Deutsch and Dr.
Reuven Weil of the Rabin Medical
Center, spent time in some prominent London hospitals with leading surgeons in
To be chosen for this project, the young doctors had to have
completed their specialization in general surgery and show they are proficient
in English. Abu-Arar qualified in medicine in Jordan 11 years ago, studying at
the Amman College of Science and Technology.
“At the moment, there is
little chance for a Beduin student to get grades good enough to be accepted at
Ben-Gurion University,” he said. Nevertheless, he is now a surgeon at Soroka
University Medical Center specializing in colorectal surgery.
were sent to London by the David Yanir Foundation for the Advancement of
Colorectal Surgery in Israel and with financial help from the John Furman Fund
of the Israel Britain and Commonwealth Association, which covered the complete
cost of the program.