A doctor treats a patient at an Israeli hospital..
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
Counter to frequent government claims that the local
health system is among the "best in the world," an "objective"
comparison conducted for the Israel Medical Association of a large
variety of parameters shows it gets only average marks when compared to
European Union countries. Israel received a middling 50 on a scale of
The National Health Index assessment tool
developed by the IMA and conducted by leading doctors, academics and
health system experts was revealed on Monday for the first time by Dr.
Yoram Blachar, the IMA's outgoing chairman. His successor will be
chosen at the IMA's 41st national conference in Jerusalem this week.
The team of experts found that the relative position of
Israel's health system compared to EU countries is declining; this
includes the state of preventive medicine; the amount of available
medical manpower and infrastructure; and inequity of healthcare among
the various ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
Blachar warned that if the pace of decline continues, by 2015,
Israel will be among the bottom third compared to developed European
countries, when today it is in the middle. He said the IMA intends to
publicize the National Health Index every year, and that the ratings
will be used by international organizations such as the World Health
Organization and the OECD
. The IMA will consider the inclusion of
additional parameters and invites all relevant groups to join the
initiative to develop the index and advance the level of healthcare.
The country's faltering educational system is
objectively compared every year with those in Western countries, but
the IMA maintains that until now, this was not done with the health
The findings counter positions of the Treasury, which has
consistently stated there is no major need for expanding medical
Among the factors making up the index were
longevity, morbidity, health behaviors, vaccinations, diagnosis of
infectious diseases, ratios of doctors in various specialties and
nurses per capita, the size of medical infrastructures, satisfaction of
residents with their health care and way they are treated in medical
institutions, and gaps in care, morbidity and mortality among various
In the periphery, infant mortality is much higher than in the
center of the country. Asthma and diabetes are much more common among
low socioeconomic groups.
There are two few operating rooms and hospital outside the
center of the country. Poor people often forgo the purchase of drugs
they are prescribed or medical care they need because they can't afford
the copayments, the IMA said. There is no trend that shows a reduction
in inequity, the IMA's 39-page report concluded.