Health Ministry 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Health Ministry’s recent decision to cancel free hearing tests for infants
between the age of seven and nine months aroused opposition from the Knesset
Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee on Tuesday.
Kadman, head of the Israel Council for the Child, stated that the ministry’s
decision was “unbelievable economic stupidity” because the cost of screening
compared to the potential harm to children was negligible.
head of the Audiology, Language, Speech and Hearing Disorders Institute at
Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, added that the
ministry “made the decision on its own, without consulting the relevant
The committee, headed by acting chairman MK Ilan Gilon, was
holding a special session to mark National Hearing Day and as a result of the
sudden ministry decision.
Dr. Lisa Rubin, head of the ministry’s mother
and child health department, said that since January 2010, it began to pay for
all newborns in obstetrics departments to undergo hearing tests before their
Later it decided to cancel the audiology checkup for older
infants “because we found it was not effective and only put more burdens on the
health system. The fact is that no other country in the world performs them
then. Even if I had unlimited financial means, I wouldn’t do such a checkup,”
Gilon stated that the financial cost was “insignificant”
and that the importance of identifying hearing problems as early as possible is
MK Orly Levy said that hearing tests in older newborns can
point to additional developmental and communications problems, including autism.
“These tests save much money in the long term.”
Dr. Mordechai Himmelfarb
of the Israel Medical Association added that “almost a third of children who
suffer from profound deafness passed the test after birth. Thus there is no
doubt that there is a need to screen babies’ hearing before their first
Gilon concluded by saying that “Israel is not a
The committee demands the restoration of screening tests
between the ages of seven and nine months.”