HU dean denounces state's low health priority
Alumni conference to address shortage of specialty physicians, long waiting periods of patients for treatment.
Prof. Eran Leitersdorf and Prof. Benny Drenger. Photo: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
The dean of the Hebrew University- Hadassah Medical School – celebrating the
60th anniversary of its first graduation class – charges that the “State of
Israel has neglected the area of medicine, and it is today at the bottom of the
state’s order of preferences.”
Prof. Eran Leitersdorf said this will be
one of the issues to be discussed by an expected 1,000 graduates at the two-day
conference, which will be held on Wednesday evening and all day
“The portion of the national expenditures on medicine from the
gross domestic product has not risen in the last decade, something which is in
total contradiction to the other nations in the OECD, the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development [of which Israel is a member],” said
Leitersdorf in an interview in his office..
The amounts spent privately
on medicine have continually grown, while the public expenditures have gone
down, he continued, the result of which is that “equal medical care for all, in
which we took such pride in the past and in whose spirit we educated our medical
students since the establishment of our medical school, has become increasingly
medicine for the rich,” he stated, adding that the population’s health status is
as important to the country’s future as security.
“We hope the conference
at the Jerusalem International Convention Center will be a platform for academic
discussion on the principal aspects and goals for medicine in our country in the
coming decades and also to call attention of the government to the importance of
the security of its citizens’ health and not just their political security,”
said Leitersdorf, a 1975 graduate of the school.
The dean said that
medical students and doctors today are just as good as they were in his time but
they are different; they multitask and spend much less time searching for
information and on other technical matters, thanks to computers, and they want
to spend more of their time with their families and on volunteer
The participants – out of 5,000 graduates of the country’s
first medical school, about 3,000 of them working professionally or retired –
will have not only a reunion but also debate pressing issues involving the
shaping of Israeli medicine in the coming 40 years, when the school’s centenary
will be observed.
“We will raise at the conference a number of urgent
topics facing us today, including the shortage of specialty physicians in the
periphery and the long waiting periods of patients for treatment,” said Prof.
Benny Drenger, head of the medical school’s alumni association and a senior
Some 200 Jerusalem medical students will also
take part in discussions on the future of medicine, including research, medical
technology, globalization and ethical issues.