Health Ministry not ready for big emergencies, says report

There is still no comprehensive law that sets down the responsibilities of the various authorities involved in dealing with emergencies.

May 15, 2014 05:05
1 minute read.
A Magen David Adom ambulance.

Magen David Adom ambulance 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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More than seven years after the Second Lebanon War and 22 years after the IDF Home Front Command was established, there is still no comprehensive law that sets down the responsibilities of the various authorities involved in dealing with emergencies, according to a section of the State Comptroller Report on the Health Ministry.

The ministry prepared a draft law in 1995 on health services in a catastrophe, but things were neither finalized, nor put into motion – endangering the population and harming the ability of medical institutions to cope with a crisis.

The comptroller issued a special report demanding legislation back in 2007, but nothing was done – something he regarded as a “serious” shortcoming.

During major emergencies – whether natural or man-made – large numbers of people could be expected to move to unaffected parts of the country or to seek help, but no serious plans were made to cope with this possibility, he continued.

The responsibilities of the four public health funds in an emergency have not been set down by the ministry, which should be working in coordination with the IDF, the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry, said the comptroller. In addition, there are major gaps among medical institutions’ fortification against terrorism and enemy attacks. The Health Ministry’s supreme hospitalization authority must immediately find a solution and set priorities together with the health funds, he said.

It should plan how to treat patients unable to reach hospitals who need care in their homes.

As some community health fund clinics may be unable to function in an emergency, plans must be made to unify them, but the ministry has not done so. Survivors of catastrophes who develop anxiety attacks need to be treated in a coordinated way, but plans are not ready, the comptroller said. In addition, the ministry has not arranged for the health funds to make contact with importers and suppliers of drugs to ensure there will be enough to treat patients in an emergency.

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