An international team that studied Israel’s medical services after the country became a member of the Organisation for Economic and Development (OECD) has stated in a preliminary report that Israel has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
The team, consisting of OECD and external experts, arrived a year ago and visited the country’s five largest hospitals, community health fund clinics in Jewish development towns and Arab villages, and a baby care centre in an unrecognised Bedouin town in the Negev. They also met with representatives of patient rights organisations in the Arab and Ethiopian Jewish sectors and with heads of professional medical groups.
With their work completed, the final report will be published on November 26 when OECD officials will again come to Israel to attend a conference on health systems and present their findings in a press conference.
Despite the high marks, there is a complex mix of gaps in the health system between the rich and the poor, the centre and the periphery, and various ethnic groups, said the OECD. The report points to inequalities between Arabs and Jews and recommends that more efforts are made to ensure equity and accessibility to health care.
The report also found that certain population groups have unique health problems. For example, a higher percentage of Arab men than Jewish men smoke, and Arab women have higher obesity rates.
“We encourage Israel to develop clinical guidelines which are culturally sensitive,” Francesco Columbo of the OECD said. “For example Israel must make more efforts in smoking cessation for Arab men and obesity reduction for Arab women.”
Israel’s Deputy Health Minister, Ya’acov Litzman, welcomed the report for its praise of the system and noted that he would act to make the suggested improvements.