A Knesset lobby to promote Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba – the only hospital in the Negev – has been established with support from Health Minister Yael German and at the initiative of Yesh Atid MK Shimon Solomon.

The aim is to raise public awareness of the needs of the hospital, including the building of a new and fortified neonatal unit, a department of rehabilitation, and a comprehensive center for cancer research, Solomon said on Sunday.

The first event of the lobby will be held on March 12 in the Knesset.

MK and Prof. Asher Bashiri, a senior gynecologist/obstetrician at Soroka, had met two years ago in Rwanada, when the physician went to lecture in a youth village for orphans. Solomon – a former resident of Beersheba and social work graduate of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev – was managing the youth village at the time. Bashiri even taught teams about ultrasound technology at Rwamagana Hospital near the village.

Since then, Solomon and Bashiri became closer; the MK visited Soroka director Dr. Ehud Davidson and said he would do all he could to reduce the gaps between his hospital – which is owned by the largest health fund, Clalit Health Services – and those in the center of the country.

German, Solomon, Davidson, and Bashira met recently in the Knesset and discussed the needs at Soroka, which has a million residents in its catchment area.

Its emergency department is the busiest in Israel, and the population – many of them Beduin – continues to grow at a rapid speed.

Soon there will be many more, as the Israel Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry are to begin populating its “Bahad City” center of training center south of Beersheba. Davidson noted that new hospital departments are needed to cope with this new group of residents and suiting Soroka to its manpower needs “before it is too late.”

“The target of this lobby is to connect the heart and soul of policy makers to Negev residents, who deserve to have advanced medical services,” concluded Bashiri.

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