Litzman vows to continue crusade against junk food

Minister launches national plan to fight diabetes

Yaakov Litzman est confiant. Le prochain gouvernement se fera avec les ultraorthodoxes (photo credit: YOEL LEVI)
Yaakov Litzman est confiant. Le prochain gouvernement se fera avec les ultraorthodoxes
(photo credit: YOEL LEVI)
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman is determined to reduce the consumption of “junk food” to prevent the population from developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The United Torah Judaism minister told a conference on diabetes on Wednesday that since taking office as health minister he has “been subjected to pressures from the food industry not to discuss junk food in a negative light, as it reduces sales to the public.”
Litzman said he would ignore these pressures, and speak out against sweet beverages, simple carbohydrates and fatty foods that endanger health.
The conference, held at the Ramat Efal Convention Center in Ramat Gan, marked the launch of the ministry’s program to fight diabetes, which it considers an epidemic in Israel. The program includes a media campaign against soft drinks and in favor of physical activity, initiated last week.
Professionals involved in the campaign against diabetes include: Prof. Arnon Afek, the ministry’s associate director- general; public health chief Prof. Itamar Grotto; and Prof. Itamar Raz, head of the diabetes unit at Hadassah University Medical Center, and a longtime activist for the prevention of the metabolic disease.
Litzman noted that there are lifesaving drugs and other medical technologies for diabetes that have not yet been included in the basket of health services. The NIS 300 million added by the Treasury each year to the basket is “not enough” to cover all necessary technologies. At the end of 2016, NIS 2.2 billion worth of technologies will be proposed for addition to next year’s basket, he said.
“I am responsible for the health of our citizenry, so I propose that lifesaving drugs that do not get into the basket again be included in the supplementary health insurance policies. If they [the Treasury] doesn’t want this, then let them add NIS 1 billion to the basket. I will not give up on this.”
He cautioned that while life expectancy in Israel is rising, the government should not be complacent about public health. “A way must be found for patients to get important and expensive drugs that remain outside the basket.”