IMA: Compared to EU countries, nation's healthcare on the decline

A doctor treats a patient at an Israeli hospital. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
A doctor treats a patient at an Israeli hospital.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
Counter to frequent government claims that the localhealth system is among the "best in the world," an "objective"comparison conducted for the Israel Medical Association of a largevariety of parameters shows it gets only average marks when compared toEuropean Union countries. Israel received a middling 50 on a scale of100.

The National Health Index assessment tooldeveloped by the IMA and conducted by leading doctors, academics andhealth system experts was revealed on Monday for the first time by Dr.Yoram Blachar, the IMA's outgoing chairman. His successor will bechosen at the IMA's 41st national conference in Jerusalem this week.

The team of experts found that the relative position ofIsrael's health system compared to EU countries is declining; thisincludes the state of preventive medicine; the amount of availablemedical manpower and infrastructure; and inequity of healthcare amongthe various ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

Blachar warned that if the pace of decline continues, by 2015,Israel will be among the bottom third compared to developed Europeancountries, when today it is in the middle. He said the IMA intends topublicize the National Health Index every year, and that the ratingswill be used by international organizations such as the World HealthOrganization and the OECD. The IMA will consider the inclusion ofadditional parameters and invites all relevant groups to join theinitiative to develop the index and advance the level of healthcare.

The country's faltering educational system isobjectively compared every year with those in Western countries, butthe IMA maintains that until now, this was not done with the healthsystem.

The findings counter positions of the Treasury, which hasconsistently stated there is no major need for expanding medicalinfrastructure.

Among the factors making up the index werelongevity, morbidity, health behaviors, vaccinations, diagnosis ofinfectious diseases, ratios of doctors in various specialties andnurses per capita, the size of medical infrastructures, satisfaction ofresidents with their health care and way they are treated in medicalinstitutions, and gaps in care, morbidity and mortality among variouspopulation groups.

In the periphery, infant mortality is much higher than in thecenter of the country. Asthma and diabetes are much more common amonglow socioeconomic groups.

There are two few operating rooms and hospital outside thecenter of the country. Poor people often forgo the purchase of drugsthey are prescribed or medical care they need because they can't affordthe copayments, the IMA said. There is no trend that shows a reductionin inequity, the IMA's 39-page report concluded.