Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who as a former yeshiva student admittedly had no secular education, stated on Wednesday that he appreciates the importance of medical research.“Without research there is no medicine,” said the United Torah Judaism MK.Greeting the first-ever research day – in its 114-year history – of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Litzman bemoaned the fact that the Finance and Health Ministries provide only about NIS 8 million a year in funds for medical research.“It’s a drop in the ocean he said.“Isn’t it shameful? Maybe we can increase it,” said the minister, adding that he has not yet succeed in persuading the government to give money for medical research through the office of the chief scientist of the Economics (formerly Trade and Industry) Ministry, which has a large amount of money at its disposal.Continuing with his recent campaign for healthful living and against obesity, Litzman told his audience of some 300 doctors and nurses that the situation in overweight is “horrible. We have one of the best longevity rates in the world, but we nevertheless have among the highest obesity rates in the world. It all begins with children.”Litzman said he recently toured a Lod school with Education Minister Naftali Bennett on a surprise visit and found that it was prepared to serve healthy food to the children. “I understand that big food companies don’t like my campaign against junk food, but I will not be deterred. I don’t have any primaries to win, just the approval of the Council of Rabbinical Sages of UTJ.”Litzman said that as a result of complaints he has been receiving from the public, he decided that he would make it possible for patients who need cardiac care and certain other medical treatment in hospitals for the patients to decide where they wanted care, and not allow the four public health funds to decide for them.“For oncology (cancer) and neurosurgery, patients already have the option of choosing their hospital.I want to expand this. I will insist.Maybe it has to be a law, maybe not.”The health minister added that he wants to reduce the number of hours that hospital residents learning a specialty work in one stint.“If they do 28 hours straight, they can make mistakes. I wanted to cut it to 16 or 18 hours at a time during the doctors’ strike in 2011, but I didn’t succeed. I will try again to change the labor agreement without it being violated.”Some 180 pieces of original research by SZMC doctors and nurses were presented in posters all along the corridors on the fifthfloor of the hospital, with numerous lecturers speaking on some of them and prizes of NIS 10,000 and NIS 5,000. A Health Page feature on Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s first research day will appear on Sunday, May 29.