Know More About Palestine
Monday Feb. 2, 2009 3:58 PM (EST+7)

Israeli health facilities are on par with most Western nations, with a very high doctor-patient ratio, and modern medical facilities. The infant mortality rate is 4.28 per 1000 births, which is lower than that of the United States, the United Kingdom and Denmark. Life expectancy is also quite high, with an average of 80.61 - ranked 13th highest in the world for longevity.

Nevertheless, inequality exists in healthcare practices of  Israel, particularly in relation to its responsibilities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

SOCIALIST ROOTS

Israel’s primary health maintenance organization (HMO) began in 1911 as a collaborative effort of agricultural workers. It was later joined by other insurance providers. Health services were based on a graduated pay scale. In 1973, the government mandated all employers to provide partial medical insurance costs, which resulted in about 96 percent health coverage.

In 1994, the government realized that its primary fund was covering a disproportionate amount of health-related costs while private insurance companies enjoyed the benefits of covering the healthiest demographics. Hence, a national health insurance bill was passed that mandated a general list of minimum services to be offered by all insurance companies.

The ministry of health, which oversees Israel’s health care system has moved away from its socialist roots over the years, instead aiming to offer a wider range of services and techniques.

INEQUALITY IN HEALTHCARE

Inequality persists in the health conditions of Jews and Palestinians in Israel. According to 2008 statistics, Jewish men live on average of 78.2 years, while Arab men live an average of 74.9 years; Jewish women an average of 82.2 years compared to 78.4 for Arab women. Arab communities experience a significantly higher infant mortality rate of 8.3 per 1000 births in comparison to 3.8 for Jews.  

Some of Israel’s newest immigrants are at a greater risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis than long time residents, while foreign workers comprising a population of 200,000 are limited in their access to healthcare benefits.

Israelzzz*zs ratification of the Geneva convention obliges it to permit necessary medicine and health care provisions to enter the occupied Palestinian territories even during times of war. Israel has obstructed medical supplies into Gaza, especially since 2007, causing grave health crises.

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