IMA chairman says Israeli health system is in a state of emergency

“Even Greece, which is in a very difficult situation, invests much more in health than Israel,” he said.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
April 3, 2019 21:32
2 minute read.
Prof. Zion Hagai speaks at the Jerusalem Post Elections Conference on April 3, 2019

Prof. Zion Hagai speaks at the Jerusalem Post Elections Conference on April 3, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

“The average OECD country invests 9% of its budget on healthcare,” said Prof. Zion Hagai, chairman of the 25,000-member Israel Medical Association on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Elections Conference, he said that Israel only invests 7.4%.

“Even Greece, which is in a very difficult situation, invests much more in health than Israel,” he continued. “The health system in Israel is in a challenging state. For the past 25 to 30 years, the health system has been operating without a long-term plan. The health basket has eroded. We face a huge shortage of doctors, and as many as one-third more are expected to retire within the next decade.
“In the 1990s, the Russian immigration brought many new doctors into the system. That was a miracle, as we were in this situation already in the 90s,” he continued.

Hagai said that every year, 500 new residents must be brought into the system, in order for someone to take the place of the retirees. But these new doctors have to complete their residency and so have to be placed in one. But the number of open positions has not changed to meet population growth or morbidity rates.

“There is inequality between the periphery and the Center,” he said. “Today, [those in the Center] wait three times as long as they used to see a doctor. In the periphery, the situation is even more severe,” he said.

“We are short 12,000 hospital beds. The situation in psychiatric hospitals is among the worst – the overcrowding and conditions in these hospitals are terrible,” he said.

Hagai recommended that the country establish a national emergency plan to save the health system, increase the budget and build two new hospitals in the North and South.

“It is necessary to strengthen our community medical care system and improve a home care system,” he said. “We must create a national emergency plan to save the health system for [the sake of] the health of the residents of Israel.

Leah Wapner, CEO of the IMA, has said that “the health system is the nature reserve of the State of Israel. There is no religion or color in it – and this is [both] the advantage of this system and its Achille’s heel,” Hagai noted.

“But the health system is among the most important issues on the agenda today,” he said.


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