The Health Ministry has admitted to closing well-baby (tipat halav) clinics in both recognized and unrecognized Beduin settlements in the Negev due to "the lack of nursing manpower."
Thousands of Beduin infants and toddlers in the area are now at risk, Beduin leaders say, as lack of preventive treatment such as monitoring and vaccinations can easily increase infant mortality.
The Health Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that "due to the major shortage of nurses in the southern district, we were forced to stop reception in small tipat halav stations and move [the nurses] to large stations" so that there will be enough there to serve the public.
She continued that in recent years, well-baby clinics that served the Jewish population in other parts of the Negev have also been closed, including those in Ma'agalim, Kfar Maimon, Mahaneh Adi and Omer, and elsewhere.
"We are aware of and worried about the condition of tipat halav stations in the Negev and are working in a variety of ways to tackle the issue, including the opening of a special course for Beduin nurses, with full state financing, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. This activity is likely to provide a long-term solution," the ministry said.
In the short term, the ministry spokeswoman concluded, "we are examining in cooperation with the Civil Service Commission and the Treasury the possibility of giving incentives to nurses in the South, so that more can be hired to cope with the immediate shortage of nursing manpower in the Negev in general and the Beduin sector specifically."