This is the fifth essay in a multi-part series of blogs regarding what the Yesh Atid party has accomplished for Israel during its year and eight month tenure in office
As a result of Yesh Atid’s laws and policies, Israel’s health system has been, and will continue to be, reformed leading to more efficient, user friendly and less expensive health services.
The Health Ministry in Israel was always viewed as a ministry in which nothing could really get done and, as a result, elected officials shied away from the position of health minister. MK Yael German of the Yesh Atid party specifically wanted this portfolio and from day one has been hard at work. The following demonstrates some of what she has accomplished to date during the short 19th Knesset:
1) Closing the gap between the quality of health care in the center of the country and the periphery including: the introduction of a heart department and chest surgeries to Poriah hospital in Tiberias , new MRI machines for hospitals throughout the periphery, new radiation equipment for Ziv Hospital in Tzefat for the treatment of cancer patients throughout the North, 250 million NIS in grants for doctors throughout the periphery, 75 million NIS in grants for specialty areas in the periphery.
2) The establishment of a website, “Kol Habriut,” which outlines the rights of citizens to healthcare and also provides a detailed explanation of the various health insurance options available.
3) A national program to eradicate polio from Israel
4) A program to promote the inclusion of Ethiopian immigrants in pre-nursing programs
5) 150 million NIS to improve emergency care and an upgrade in the computer system in emergency rooms
6) New regulations regarding the use of pesticides on fruits and vegetables and the banning of any chemicals that have proven to contain any danger
7)The establishment of a national program to prevent suicides – a government program together with the ministries of welfare, education, immigration, and senior citizens to reduce the number of suicides in Israel and better assist the families of those who have committed suicide
8) Improving services for the handicapped including moving ministry service to a facility with access for the handicapped
9) Adding positions for immigrant doctors and removing obstacles for nurses who want to make Aliyah.
10) Government approval for a new hospital in Be’er Sheva
This list of accomplishments pales in comparison to what MK German was on the verge of accomplishing when the Prime Minister called for new elections. One of the first things she did when she came into office was to establish a professional committee to determine the best path to strengthen the public health system in Israel. They met for over a year with the leading experts in the field. The committee returned with its recommendations and they were to be included in the 2015 budget which the Prime Minister stopped from passing when he disbanded the Knesset. That budget included a 4 billion NIS increase to the health ministry and the following is a brief overview of the improvements which were planned for 2015:
1) Cutting down on waiting times for surgeries and appointments
2) Getting rid of the payments that too many citizens make for unnecessary extra insurance policies
3) A major reform in medical tourism to make sure that Israeli citizens don’t suffer from non-Israelis who live abroad and seek medical treatment in Israel
4) The opening of 6 new overnight medical centers in the periphery and further improvements in all emergency rooms
5) Reforms on behalf of those with celiac disease to reduce the prices of gluten- free food
6) Significant investment in improving early childhood treatment in the South
7) Including more medications in the health basket
8) Treatment of problems of contamination and infections in hospitals
9) Implementation of the recommendations of a special committee for identifying rare diseases in Israel and the appropriate treatments
10) The establishment of a committee to improve healthcare services for women and the employment of women in the healthcare field
All of these necessary reforms are ready to be activated. We, in Yesh Atid, look forward to returning with all our power on March 18th and we look forward to Yael German returning to the head of the Health Ministry to ensure that all the improvements we already made remain in place and to continue forward with our plans, projects and programs in the 2015 budget and beyond to improve healthcare in Israel.