Knesset panel: Public health nurses must return to schools

MK Levy-Abecassis: A schoolchild who gets good treatment today will be a healthy person in the future.

(photo credit: KNESSET)
The Knesset has again demanded that the Finance and Health ministries reverse the privatization of the School Health Service carried out some eight years ago, charging that privatization cost much more and resulted in poorer service than when public health nurses ran it.
The School Health Service is meant not only to give immunizations to pupils, but also to educate children about health and perform checkups for hearing, posture and vision. But since the Treasury turned it over – with Health Ministry acquiescence – to a series of private companies, it has provided little more than shots, and even that not in a highly efficient way, according to MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Likud Beytenu), head of the Knesset’s Children’s Rights Committee, which met on Tuesday.
After a State Comptroller’s report strongly criticized the privatization, the Health Ministry restored public health nurses in its southern district. But public health experts have demanded that all the privatization be canceled and the public service restored.
“Knesset committee after Knesset committee and dozens of reports have urged an end to privatization, but the message hasn’t gotten through [to the Treasury],” Levy-Abecassis said.
She added that this time the economic aspect was also wrong, as there had been a surge in costs for the private companies to run the service.
“A schoolchild who gets good treatment today will be a healthy person in the future, and this saves money for the state and society,” the MK said.
Levy-Abecassis said that all the other authorities and experts, including the Health Ministry and the High Court of Justice, now supported ending privatization, all except for “a Treasury official who is responsible for health budgets and has been in the job for only six weeks.”