(photo credit: Kaplan Medical Center)
A professional committee set up to recommend ways to improve treatment, manpower
and conditions in neonatal intensive care units found that 240 additional beds,
89 manpower slots for doctors and hundreds for nurses are needed to reach
The report was released for publication on
The committee, appointed by the Health Ministry following
severe criticism by the state comptroller and parents, said carrying this out
would cost tens of millions of shekels annually when spread over several years.
According to the criticism, numerous “low birth weight” (up to 2.5 kilos) and
“very low birth weight” (up to 1.5 kilos) newborns suffer from infections or
lack of close supervision and die because of the lack of manpower and necessary
infrastructure. The ministry said that it is discussing with the Treasury how
much of an increase in allocations will be allowed and the way they will be
Low- and very-low birth weight babies are more common with
multiple births that often result from in-vitro fertilization – of which there
is a very high number in Israel due to generous funding by the official basket
of health service.
According to the recommendations, there should be one
neonatologist for every 3.5 beds and one nurse for every 1.5 beds in intensive
care, and for neonates getting “special treatment,” 1 doctor for every 6.1 beds
and one nurse for every 4.5 beds. The current standard in Israel is
The lack of qualified personnel in neonatal units is
so severe that it is difficult to get nurses and doctors to work in
Occupancy rates were 159 percent compared to official standards in
LAHAV, a voluntary organization fighting for the upgrade of
neonatal intensive care units, commented that it had been waiting a long time
for such recommendations and hoped they would be implemented immediately. More
than 10% of all babies here are born at lowor very-low birth weights, it said.
It called on the ministry to “act as a regulator and force the hospital
directors” to transfer money meant for neonatal units but not used for this
purpose and on the Knesset to ensure that money owed to the units over the past
seven years (since an amendment to the law on allocations for the treatment of
mothers and newborns was first enacted) be made available.
spent to improve the health of very small newborns, LAHAV said, would result in
the need to spend funds on helping disabled children and adults.