On the eve of the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli population was receiving a high level of healthcare, according to a report by the National Program for Quality Indicators in Community Healthcare covering the years 2015-2019.
The document was released on Wednesday morning. It examined nine categories of indicators: lifestyle, early detection of cancer, services offered to children and seniors, respiratory, heart and infectious diseases, diabetes and mental health.
Among the findings, the researchers found that about 62% of men and 55% of women ages 20-64 were overweight or obese and that the numbers are trending upward. Moreover, almost one out of five Israelis smoke, and one out of 10 has diabetes.
The program also monitors the rate of medical checks that are essential for prevention or early detection of dangerous diseases. In most instances, the rate of people getting screened for relevant diseases is increasing.
More than 70% of women ages 50-74 had a mammography in 2019, while about 65% of people ages 50-74 were screened for fecal occult blood (FOB), an important test to identify colon-rectum cancer. However, only 65.4% of those who received a positive response then had a colonoscopy, which represents the next step in detecting the illness.
“Our goal is to provide to the Health Ministry, the health funds and the public information about the quality of the healthcare supplied in the community,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem Prof. Ronit Calderon-Margalit, the head of the program, told The Jerusalem Post.
The program has been monitoring the healthcare system since 2002, and it has mirrored steady improvements.
“I think that even in these hard times, we can see that our health system is one of the best in the world, and Israelis should be very proud of it,” Calderon-Margalit said.
The document does not cover 2020 and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the system. However, the researchers are working on a special report on the topic to be released in the coming months.
“The year 2020 has been an exceptional year,” Calderon-Margalit said. “The goal of our work will not be to assess the quality of the healthcare in this case, but rather, how the virus has affected the way people utilize the health system. We expect to find that many people gave up on early detection measures. Unfortunately the pandemic will have long-term consequences.”