Poor hit by eroding health care quality

ACRI report: Life expectancy twice as low, infant mortality twice as high in Beersheba district.

poor 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
poor 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Life expectancy is twice as low and the rate of infant mortality twice as high in the Beersheba Administrative District than the average figures throughout Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), stated in a 76-page report released Sunday to mark International Human Rights Week. ACRI charged that there has been significant erosion in government funding of health services, leaving the poor and inhabitants of the periphery of the country without adequate care. In the past seven years, government funding for regular medical care has dropped 14 percent in real terms, while the development budget has fallen by 43%. As a result, the ratio of hospital beds per population is currently the lowest in the Western world. Since the National Health Insurance Law went into effect in 1994, the value of the basic basket of services has eroded by 44%, while 30% of the population is not enrolled in the supplementary programs which are meant to make up part of the difference because they cannot afford the fee. The ACRI report investigated many other civil rights topics including employment by private contractors, racism, the unrecognized Beduin villages, the right to privacy and police violence. It also addressed the rights of migrant workers, refugees, detainees and prisoners and the weakening of democracy and human rights in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. ACRI found an increase in racist sentiment among Israelis, referring to surveys indicating that more than 50% of Israeli Jews refused to live with Arabs or allow them into their houses. Most of the respondents said they supported separating Jews and Arabs in entertainment centers and are in favor of the Arabs leaving Israel. According to another survey, two-thirds of Israeli youth believe Arabs are unintelligent, uneducated, uncultured, unclean and violent. Migrant laborers are still subject to conditions of employment bordering on slavery, including being completely dependent for their status on their employer and being obliged to pay high fees to middlemen. The system of high commissions encourages the middlemen to get rid of the employee once he has paid his fee in order to bring someone new to take over the job and pay another commission. Hundreds of refugees are being detained in harsh conditions despite the fact that Israel is a signatory to an international convention prohibiting sending back those seeking shelter to a country where his life may be threatened. Israel refuses to provide sanctuary for refugees from countries classified as "enemy," including Sudan, from which 3,000 refugees arrived via Egypt over the past year. Regarding police violence, ACRI found that only 3% of the investigations conducted by the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department regarding criminal allegations police led to indictments. In a related development, the Israeli branch of Amnesty International announced that it was sponsoring three concerts in honor of human rights issues in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. The concert tour will begin in Jerusalem on December 11 at the Yellow Submarine to promote the tightening of arms control. On December 15, the tour will move to City Hall in Haifa to stress the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. On December 16, the concert will take place at the Barbie in Tel Aviv to mark the human rights in China campaign being held before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.