(photo credit: (Ariel Jerozolimski)
Only 30 percent to 40% of vaccinations have been carried out so far in the
School Health Service by the private company hired to do it, instead of the
nearly 100% rate it was supposed to have reached by now, the Knesset plenum was
told for the first time Wednesday night.
The plenum discussed its
dissatisfaction with the privatization carried out by three different private
companies – all failing – instead of the public health nurses and doctors who
had originally taken care of vaccinations and of discussing health promotion and
disease prevention in schools around the country.
Over the past five
years, the Treasury has forced the Health Ministry to fire all its School Health
Service workers and replace them with companies that work for much less money
The first was the Association for Public Health, a for-profit
company consisting of senior former Health Ministry officials.
company showed it was unable or unwilling to do the job, it was followed by
Magen David Adom, which set up a network to provide vaccination, first aid and
other services, but which, according to the state comptroller’s annual report,
failed as well.
The private company chosen by the Health Ministry tender
was meant not only to vaccinate children properly and on time, but also to
provide health education, as the public health nurses had done.
third company, Natali – which was established to give services for heart
patients, detect heart attacks online and treat them with private ambulances –
also failed, the Knesset demanded on Wednesday that the public service be
Pressed by the plenum to answer a motion, Deputy Health
Minister Ya’acov Litzman said on Thursday that the tender with Natali would end
at the end of the current school year and that a new tender would be issued.
However, he gave no indication of a restoration of public responsibility,
because the Treasury had refused to return job slots to the public
Avi Gur, a senior representative of the Israel Parents
Association, said Thursday that “the situation is terrible.
admitted that the private employees have completed only a fraction of what they
were supposed to do, and have not even begun to [complete the round of] pupils
who were absent or were new and needed vaccinating.”
Binyamin Netanyahu, who is formally the health minister, has the final
responsibility, but he has not taken any action to restore the public health
service to proper functioning.
MK Orly Levy (Israel Beiteinu) said the
service had “reached rock bottom,” failing to identify high-risk health behavior
or educate children toward health. Obesity, drug use, smoking, anorexia and
other dangerous health behaviors among pupils had been ignored, she
Health authorities added that there was a severe shortage of nurses
in the South, leaving children exposed to health dangers.
Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee is due to hold another discussion on