Health authorities had not invested enough in treating patients with anorexia,
bulimia and other eating disorders, Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni
Gamzu acknowledged on Monday.
There were too few hospital beds and
clinics to put them on the road of proper nutrition, he conceded.
Kol, chairwoman of the Knesset Public Complaints Committee, raised the issue and
demanded that the ministry present within two months realistic differential
payment rates for treatment of patients in medical institutions.
added that the topic was close to her heart because she had a friend who
suffered from eating disorders.
Cheryl Sitman described the torture of
watching her anorexic daughter reach a weight of 36 kilos. She said she was
admitted for day treatment to Sheba Medical Center’s special eating disorders
center, but that her allotted time will run out in five months and that she did
not know what would then happen.
Without public care, it would cost her
NIS 200,000 for private treatment, Sitman said.
A 25-year-old woman who
rides horses, wrote a book of poetry, is studying behavioral sciences and surfs
the Mediterranean said one thing is wrong – she has been anorexic for 12 years
and suffers from self-starvation, nausea, vomiting, fainting, depression and
suicidal thoughts. She has been treated only for short intervals in hospitals
and asked for more extensive rehabilitation to restore her to
Gamzu said there was no way to avoid the issue, and that he hoped
the mental health reform that will be implemented fully in 2015 – transferring
responsibility for psychiatric services from the ministry to the health funds –
will lead to a solution. He estimated that some 50,000 Israelis suffer from
eating disorders, but only 2,500 are reported and being treated.
Eitan Gur, an eating disorders specialist at Sheba who heads the department,
said the costs of hospitalization are huge, ranging between NIS 150,000 and NIS
300,000 per patient. There aren’t enough beds, clinics or day treatment
facilities, he said. “Everything is short.”
He added that he couldn’t see
how the health funds would be able to cover the costs unless they were
compensated realistically for their members’ care. Today, said Gur, the insurers
get only NIS 1,700 in health taxes for treating an eating-disorder patient for a
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders