By JERUSALEM POSTA, AFP/Getty Images Israel’s national health system relies on a few million people to provide care, and it is one of the most efficient in the world.
Yet when the system is under attack by a growing number of attacks, some experts say the system may be too overwhelmed and understaffed.
In a study released on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that in the first half of 2016, the Israeli government’s public hospitals had a shortfall of some 2.3 million beds, an increase of 30 percent over the same period last year.
At least 5,000 beds were closed, the WHO said, while the CDC estimated the number of closed facilities at 11,000.
While the Israeli public health agency is trying to rebuild its system, a growing amount of funding has been allocated to private hospitals, where the government and private insurers have been competing for scarce beds.
The government is expected to release more details of its budget proposals next month.
The health system’s main problem is its staffing, said Dr. Uri Avnery, a former chief medical officer at the Israeli health ministry.
“The public health ministry’s problem is that the government is taking care of the public health but the private sector is taking the risk,” he told AFP.
“If you have a large number of private providers, you can’t really provide the level of care that is needed.
There’s no room for that.”
The Israeli public is struggling to cope with the crisis, Avnery said.
“You can’t just go to a hospital.
You have to call your doctor,” he said.
“The private sector can’t handle the situation because they’re not equipped.”
Dr. Yael Saff, the director of public health at Ben-Gurion University, told AFP that Israeli hospitals have faced “a crisis” since the start of the year, as doctors were not prepared for the onslaught of attacks and infections.
“There is an acute shortage of medical staff in Israel,” she said.
Israel is in a crisis, Saff said, adding that public hospitals are “in an acute state of crisis”.
Israel is facing the worst outbreak of the flu virus in decades.
There are currently more than 10,000 confirmed cases and 1,000 deaths, the largest number of infections since 1976.
The government has promised to open all hospitals by July and has set up a special hotline for patients seeking help.
However, some critics say that the situation is deteriorating rapidly and that the country is in desperate need of better health services.
“I’m concerned about the situation in Israel because we need the government to act quickly,” said Dr Rachel Regev, who heads the Jerusalem Fund for Public Health, a private charity that has launched an online petition asking the government for more funding.
“What we need is the whole country to be on board.
The country needs an emergency plan.”
A doctor’s call for helpThe emergency call comes after the Israeli Health Ministry said last week that more than half of the country’s hospitals are overwhelmed.
The number of emergency room visits has risen to a record high, the ministry said.
It cited an increase in patients arriving with respiratory infections, as well as cases of acute respiratory syndrome, which is caused by breathing problems such as asthma.
In recent weeks, the government has tried to stem the flow of new infections and cases, but has been unable to control the crisis.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced that it would open all public hospitals by the end of July.
The new policy, which was welcomed by some critics, comes at a time when public health services are under heavy pressure from rising costs.
“We need to open as many as we can, because the crisis is getting worse,” Avnery told AFP, adding: “We have to help them get out of the crisis.”
But Avnery says that if the health system continues to operate in a chaotic manner, it may end up as the “death spiral” of public hospitals, which have to open fewer and fewer hospitals, leaving the public with fewer resources to treat the diseases they are supposed to be helping.
“In the short term, I’m not so optimistic.
But it’s not a bad outcome for the public,” he added.”
It’s not as if the system can survive.
But in the long run, it’s a disaster.”(AFP)