Regulations that will make it possible for licensed pharmacists to renew prescription drugs for certain chronic illnesses were approved on Monday by the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee.

Pharmacists will not, however, be able to prescribe new drugs; only a physician may do so.

The regulations will reduce costs in the health system, as doctors are paid by the number of patients they see each quarter.

The regulations were part of a bundle of rules proposed by the Health Ministry. Those that were approved will go into effect in six months.

Only pharmacists with a minimum of five years of experience will be entitled to prescribe medications for chronic illness that a doctor originally prescribed for the patient. The conditions include drugs for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, muscle pains, thyroid function and urological problems.

At the request of the Israel Medical Association, the Knesset committee removed from this list drugs for psychiatric conditions.

According to the regulations, the dispensing pharmacist will write the prescription after asking questions about the patient’s medical condition and what other drugs he is taking.

He must ask the patient whether, since the last time he took the drug, there was a significant change in his condition or side effects that require a doctor’s examination – while ensuring his privacy.

The prescriptions may be issued by the pharmacist for a maximum of six months after the original prescription was issued by the physician.

The Knesset committee did not approve some of the other proposals, such as giving experienced pharmacists the power to write prescriptions for new conditions such as migraine, acne, obesity or chronic rhinitis.

Committee chairman MK Haim Katz explained that excessive speed in approving all the regulations was dangerous. The proposal about new prescriptions for chronic diseases will be raised again in a few months, after the committee examines the results of implementation of the first regulations.

“The ministry is harming the status of physicians.

Its policy of introducing into the health system physician assistants who don’t have a broad medical education may harm patients,” Katz argued.

Dr. Eyal Schwartzberg, the ministry’s chief pharmacist, defended the whole set of proposed regulations, saying “we are speaking about simple drugs prescribed by pharmacists in many countries around the the world.”

Meanwhile, MK Orly Levy-Abecassis, chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights, stated Monday that it was “absurd that children who have been abused by their parents have to have parental permission for physical and psychiatric treatment.”

She called government policy in this field “catastrophic.” Sometimes, said the Likud Beytenu MK, “the parents are not the solution but part of the problem.”

She complained that there is no exact data on the number of minors who went for treatment and needed parental permission but were refused or had difficulty getting it. “But it’s clear that there are such cases. The committee must intervene and make sure that recommendations of various committees that discussed the issue be turned into formal bills that will protect children. Every day that passes means more abuse.”

The current situation, said the MK, leaves a gap in which professionals give their own interpretation and leaves them exposed to possible malpractice suits.

Levy-Abecassis told the ministries to immediately issue guidelines that would explain the responsibility of the various factors so no interpretation would be needed. A ministry lawyer said it is indeed doing this.

A representative of Maccabi Health Services, the second-largest health fund, said that its medical teams always act for the good of the child as much as is permitted by the law, despite threats and violent acts by the parents, endangering the doctors and nurses.

The state must pass legislation so that such children get the treatment they need and the medical teams are protected,” she said.

Russian Jewish leader urges silence over Crimea Rabbi Dov Bleich declares that ‘Jews and rabbis should stay away from politics’ • By S AM SOKOL A senior leader of the Russian Jewish community has urged his Ukrainian co-religionists to remain silent regarding the Russian military’s takeover of the Crimean Peninsula last week. Russia, whose Black Sea fleet is based in the semi-autonomous region, sent troops in over the weekend, claiming to protect its citizens. There is a large ethnic Russian minority in the province, which has traditionally identified itself with its eastern neighbor.

Moscow has given Kiev until Tuesday morning to surrender its forces in the Crimean Peninsula and the Ukrainians are currently in the midst of calling up their army reserves.

In response to the incursion, several religious leaders in Ukraine, including Chief Rabbi and President of the Jewish Federation of Ukraine Jacob Dov Bleich, called on Russia to “stop its aggression against Ukraine” and pull out its troops.

The letter also appealed to the international community to “stop [the] foreign invasion into Ukraine and brutal interference into our internal affairs.”

Alexander Boroda, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, told The Jerusalem Post by phone on Monday that Rabbi Bleich’s entreaties were counterproductive.

Stating that the current conflict in the Crimea is “not connected to the Jews,” Boroda declared that “Jews and rabbis should stay away from politics.”

While the current climate is not one of rampant anti-Semitism, “we don’t know what will be tomorrow,” he said.

“We feel like one family, the Jews in Ukraine and Russia, like one community, and we worry for the Ukrainian Jews,” the Russian Jewish leader added.

Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, the leader of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, has previously come under criticism for his role as President Vladimir Putin’s “court Jew,” as some Jewish activists have alleged, and for his vigorous activism on behalf of the ruling regime.

While widespread anti-Semitism has not been reported in the Crimea since the invasion, there has been at least one incident in which the Jewish community was targeted.

Graffiti calling for “Death to the Jews” was found on a synagogue in the Crimea’s Ner Tamid Reform synagogue last week, prompting Anatoly Gendin, head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Crimea, to assert that “Jews are [being] held responsible” and are being “blamed” for the “disasters” facing those living in the Crimea.

A pig’s head was thrown at the construction site of a new Chabad synagogue in Sevastopol last year, during a public campaign against the hassidic group, which locals deemed a cult. Sevastopol’s self-proclaimed Chabad Chief Rabbi Benjamin Wolf was assaulted on his way home from synagogue in 2007, suffering a broken nose and a concussion.

Wolf, who is currently in Israel, was unwilling to submit to an interview with the Post, but did send a statement indicating that the Crimean Jewish community, which he estimated at 50,000 people, is preparing “assistance of medical supplies, food, fuel, technical measures and financial support to Jews and local residents.”

According to the World Jewish Congress, there are some 15,000 Jews in Crimea.

“I keep in close contact with representatives of the various cities and examine the needs of the Jews there,” the rabbi said, praying for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

In a statement released Friday, Rabbi Michael Kapustin of the Ner Tamid Reform synagogue in Simferopol, in the Crimean Peninsula, said he would go to his synagogue to light candles even though services were canceled for security reasons.

“The city is occupied by Russians.

Apparently Russians intend to take over the Crimea and make it a part of Russia,” Kapustin said. ”If this were the case, I would leave the country. In this case, I will leave this country since I want to live in democratic Ukraine.”

Aside from Ner Tamid, however, other Jewish institutions have not shut down, Rabbi Menachem Margolin of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, who reports having been in contact with local Jewish groups, told the Post.

Life is “continuing as usual” and preparations for the upcoming Purim and Passover holidays are being “held as scheduled,” he asserted.

Schools, he added, are also open.

Rabbi Bleich’s was not the only Jewish protest lodged against the Russian incursion.

A representative of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, a communal body founded by oligarch and legislator Oleksandr Feldman, told the Post that, while “there is no specific Jewish reaction,” the Jewish community “as citizens of Ukraine are united in condemning the Russia intervention.”

“We, of course, support Rabbi Bleich and other religious leaders.”

In a statement on Monday, Feldman said that a united Ukrainian civil society “condemns Russian Federation military intervention and calls upon President Putin to immediately withdraw the troops.”

“We call upon all our fellow citizens not to allow any expressions, actions or inactions, which can be used by extremists in their goals,” he added, in what appeared to be a plea for ethnic tolerance.

“Today’s Ukraine is a native home for tens of millions of people of 130 ethnic groups and national backgrounds.

We believe it is inappropriate and strongly condemn any ideological and violent attempts and calls to destroy Ukraine’s integrity.”

Ukraine’s Jewish community is far from monolithic and other organizations, including the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine (Vaad), have thus far refrained from issuing public statements on the Russian occupation.

The World Jewish Congress called upon “all sides” in the conflict to protect the Jewish community and other minorities.

“There should be no incidents of the kind that hit Simferopol,” WJC President Ronald Lauder said Monday.

““This ugly vandalism underscores the need for protection of Jews and other minorities and for heightened vigilance around their institutions in this unsettled period.”

“Our concern is that anti-Semitic elements not exploit the unrest to commit acts of violence against individual Jews or Jewish institutions.”

The Jews of the Crimea should emigrate to Israel, “which was created for Jews who are in danger in the Diaspora,” a representative of the transnational body told the Post. “If the Jews feel insecure they definitely can make aliya to Israel.”

“If they decide to stay in the Diaspora, we will help them to secure their communities; but this conflict is not Jewish and we don’t have a political statement on it,” he added, noting that a team of Israelis affiliated with the Otzma organization is set to arrive in Kiev next week to prepare a seminar on self-defense.

Calling on local Jews to stay out of the conflict, the Forum official said that he is “afraid that the tension from the Crimea will affect and cause anti-Semitism in other areas” should it become in any way a Jewish issue.

“The situation is very dangerous,” Kievan Rabbi Moshe Azman told the Post. “We pray to stop a war.”

JTA contributed to this report.

Committee calls for increased transparency, additional rights for social workers Panel headed by Yossi Silman issues report saying that safety and wellbeing of children is the priority, and removing a child from his home is only done as a last resort • By LIDAR GRAVÉ-LAZI Removing a child from his home should be done only as a last resort, Welfare Minister Meir Cohen said on Monday.

He made the remark during a press conference in Tel Aviv where he released the findings and recommendations of the Silman Committee, headed by Yossi Silman, director-general of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry.

The committee that Cohen appointed in 2013 was tasked with examining the ministry’s policy towards removing children from troubled homes and placing them in external frameworks, as well as its policy on providing visitation rights. The committee additionally reviewed the working environment of social workers dealing with these issues, in an attempt to develop an actionable plan to improve their conditions.

Cohen said at the opening of the press conference that since the establishment of the committee “no less than five children were murdered by their parents, which emphasizes the importance of this committee.”

The welfare minister emphasized that the most important issue was first and foremost the safety and wellbeing of the child.

“The last resort as a state is to take a child away from his home and place him in an external framework. This is the final option and will be done only when the child and his needs are in imminent danger,” added Cohen.

The committee conducted its examinations while adhering to the guiding principle of “the best interest of the child,” he said. This principle also serves as the backbone of the Youth (Care and Supervision) Law in 1960, which states that a child has the right to both grow up with his family and to maintain ties with his/her parents under normative circumstances.

The Welfare Ministry is obligated by this law to intervene when a conflict occurs between these two fundamental principles and act to ensure the child’s needs, rights and interests are met once the decision is taken to remove the child from his or her home. To this effect, the ministry has planning and evaluation committees, comprised of welfare professionals, that examine whether or not to invoke the Youth Law and remove a child from his or her home.

The committee report uncovered a number of problems with the existing policies and committees in this area – most notably, a “blurring” of the criteria in distinguishing between “a minor in need” and children and youth at risk who must be removed from their homes.

In addition, the report revealed a lack of permanency in the representation of government

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