Gov’t to subsidize bone marrow databanks

Knesset to approve subsidies of test taking databanks in order to alleviate high costs of saliva, blood sample tests.

Hospital 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hospital 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The government, through the Treasury, has for the first time agreed to participate in the costs of non-profit bone marrow databanks.
This stipulation was included in a private members’ bill – approved on Monday for its second and third/final reading by the Knesset Labor, Wealth and Health Committee – to regulate such databases.
The committee’s chairman, MK Haim Katz, said it would not approve the bill – which was initiated by MKs Amir Peretz, Zevulun Orlev and Ze’ev Bielski – before the Treasury agreed to help cover the costs of such facilities, which find compatible matches for people needing treatment for certain cancers.
The cost of carrying out tests on saliva or blood samples and processing them (usually abroad) to find compatible donors is very high.
As the Treasury was in favor of the bill to regulate the databases, Treasury budgets division official Yair Zilberstein agreed that the government would contribute to their upkeep and said NIS 5 million would be allocated for 2011. The money will be transferred within eight months, he said, but Health Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev said he would push to speed this up. In 2012, the Treasury would pay NIS 2.5m., but in 2013, the sum would be “determined by need” and required approval of the Finance and Health ministries.
When the law is approved, such databanks will be permitted to operate only after receiving approval from the Health Ministry director-general.
They would be bound by laws regarding privacy and no sample could be taken without consent in writing. Samples could be taken only from the age of 17, except when used for a family member, and a minor could not be registered as a potential donor for someone who is not a relative.
Dr. Bracha Zisser, who runs the Ezer Mizion bone marrow databank, said it was “an historic decision” that would help the voluntary organizations to survive.