The Health Ministry has launched a program to more than double the number of magnetic resonance instruments (MRIs) – the $3 million devices that peer into the body layer by layer to improve diagnoses and assist in the treatment of some diseases – to 46 by the end of 2017.
The scanners use magnetic forces rather than radiation, thus posing less risks, but cannot be replaced by computerized tomography devices, which are still needed to diagnose many medical conditions.
Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman conceded that the number of devices – only 10 five years ago – has been very inadequate, but he began to increase their number during his first term as deputy health minister.
There are still seven general hospitals and two health funds without an MRI, and a total of only 21 scanners around the country.
The ministry will cover the cost for hospitals that lack them. In addition, the number of hours in which the MRI radiology institutes function will be expanded to three shifts – round the clock and for emergencies on Shabbat and festivals as well.
Some 138,000 MRI scans are performed now each year.