‘More funds needed for fighting eating disorders’

Health Ministry director-general says there are too few hospital beds and clinics to put patients on the road of proper nutrition.

By
May 14, 2013 03:42
1 minute read.
Dr. Ronni Gamzu

RonniGamzu311. (photo credit: Sourasky Medical Center)

Health authorities had not invested enough in treating patients with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders, Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu acknowledged on Monday.

There were too few hospital beds and clinics to put them on the road of proper nutrition, he conceded.

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MK Adi Kol, chairwoman of the Knesset Public Complaints Committee, raised the issue and demanded that the ministry present within two months realistic differential payment rates for treatment of patients in medical institutions.

She added that the topic was close to her heart because she had a friend who suffered from eating disorders.

Cheryl Sitman described the torture of watching her anorexic daughter reach a weight of 36 kilos. She said she was admitted for day treatment to Sheba Medical Center’s special eating disorders center, but that her allotted time will run out in five months and that she did not know what would then happen.

Without public care, it would cost her NIS 200,000 for private treatment, Sitman said.

A 25-year-old woman who rides horses, wrote a book of poetry, is studying behavioral sciences and surfs the Mediterranean said one thing is wrong – she has been anorexic for 12 years and suffers from self-starvation, nausea, vomiting, fainting, depression and suicidal thoughts. She has been treated only for short intervals in hospitals and asked for more extensive rehabilitation to restore her to health.

Gamzu said there was no way to avoid the issue, and that he hoped the mental health reform that will be implemented fully in 2015 – transferring responsibility for psychiatric services from the ministry to the health funds – will lead to a solution. He estimated that some 50,000 Israelis suffer from eating disorders, but only 2,500 are reported and being treated.

Prof. Eitan Gur, an eating disorders specialist at Sheba who heads the department, said the costs of hospitalization are huge, ranging between NIS 150,000 and NIS 300,000 per patient. There aren’t enough beds, clinics or day treatment facilities, he said. “Everything is short.”

He added that he couldn’t see how the health funds would be able to cover the costs unless they were compensated realistically for their members’ care. Today, said Gur, the insurers get only NIS 1,700 in health taxes for treating an eating-disorder patient for a year.


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