A baby playing (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Health Ministry does not dispute the contention last week by its director of women and children’s health in the southern region, Dr. Manuel Katz, that tipat halav (well-baby) clinic pediatricians will become extinct in the coming years.
Katz made this assertion at last week’s Negev Conference on Wellbeing of the Child at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. Very few pediatricians go to work in the clinics, preferring to work in a hospital pediatrics department, a health-fund community clinic or private practice, Katz pointed out.
The average age of 70% of tipat halav physicians is 57 years old. When they go on pension, Katz said, doctors in the clinics will disappear. Only 15% of pediatric specialists do any work in the community, and the rest don’t understand the importance of working at tipat halav or other community institutions, he said. Pediatricians at tipat halav clinics earn considerable less than their counterparts in other medical institutions.
“Despite the importance of tipat halav clinics, in recent years, the service has been very neglected,” said Vered Windman of the Israel Council for the Welfare of the Child.
“Tipat halav clinics are a universal and vital service and an example of preventive medicine that we can’t manage without. It is thanks to them, among other things, that infant mortality rates here are among the lowest in the world. Thus it is inconceivable to neglect this service.”
Asked to comment, the ministry admitted there is a shortage of tipat halav pediatricians “due to the shortage of pediatricians in the country. It is a phenomenon we have been struggling with for several y ears.” The ministry said that, as a result, it believes the solution is “strengthening the connection between tipat halav clinics and pediatricians in the community using computer systems to pool resources.
Using computer programs, details on infants can be sent to community doctors from tipat halav clinics and from the pediatricians to the clinics,” the ministry said. “That way, doctors in the community will be able to consult with tipat halav nurses and overcome the shortage of pediatricians.” The ministry did not explain exactly how this would work and how health fund pediatricians would be compensated for work with tipat halav clinics.