OECD highlights Israel’s low infant mortality, high obesity

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development issues its first comparative report on health indicators of its member countries since Israel joined.

By JUDY SIEGEL ITZKOVICH
July 1, 2011 07:16
2 minute read.
obesity

obesity 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The good news is that infant mortality is relatively low, longevity and fertility are high and Israel enjoys high-quality medicine; the bad news is that obesity is growing, the rates of hospital beds and nurses are half the average and the rate of public health expenditure only two-thirds the average of other OECD countries.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development issued on Thursday afternoon its first comparative report on health indicators of its member countries since Israel joined last September.

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Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman lauded Israel’s report card and stressed “the health system’s and the ministry’s achievements that reflect on the ministry’s broad activity.

“We have reached an agreement to add 1,000 hospital beds in the next five years. This achievement will improve Israel’s situation compared to other members,” said Litzman, who with Treasury negotiators has been submerged in the last three months in the mire of doctors’ and nurses’ sanctions over inadequate manpower, medical facilities and wages.

Minister director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu added in a more balanced way that while Israel receives good marks for life expectancy on the one hand, the report also reflects the “challenges of the health system regarding our activity...

to adopt health promotion in the population such as to encourage physical activity and reduce overweight, especially in children, smoking and alcohol abuse.”

Gamzu noted the major burden on infrastructures in the healthcare system, especially in terms of hospital beds and manpower slots. The rate of public funding of health services is relatively low, the directorgeneral said, “and strengthens our argument that resources must be added to the public health system. This addition is vital to preserve the quality of service and improve equity for all patients.”



The population is still young compared to the other member- states, while at the same time, the share of elderly over 65 is 9.8 percent, compared to the OECD average of 14.9%.

The percentage of children under 14 is 27.9%, making it the second highest in the OECD countries. But the relationship between these two groups compared to the rest of the population over 15 and up to 64 expressed the “relationship of dependency,” as many children and many elderly have to be supported by the working people in between. In Israel, the relationship is 60.5%, the highest in the OECD.

The average Israeli woman has three children during her lifetime, the most in the OECD. Life expectancy for men is 79.9 compared to the average 76.6, and impressive.

Among women, life expectancy is lower, with the average Israeli woman living only 83.3 years compared to the OECD average of 82.2; the gap between Israeli women and men is smaller.

There are 3.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births here compared to the OECD average of 4.4.

While rates of overweight here are 43.5% for women and 52.2% for men and still lower than the average in Europe, they are rising, the report said.

The rate of dentists is a bit higher than the OECD average, but as for doctors and nurses, Israel is very behind and their rates are dropping quickly. National health expenditures are just 7.9% of GDP and declining compared to 9.6% as the OECD average. The percentage of health expenditures paid by the government is a low 58.5% compared to the OECD average of 71.7%.

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