Healthcare inequality is a serious issue in Israel, especially for those living on the geographic and economic peripheries. But a group of Galilee mayors and hospital directors are working to change that. On July 14th, 20 Arab and Jewish mayors came together with the directors of six northern hospitals to fight for health equity in Israel’s north. The meeting was organized by Shatil’s Arab-Jewish Citizen’s Forum for the Promotion of Health in the Galilee, whose members also attended the gathering. The meeting strategized a joint campaign to bridge the serious health gaps between the north and center of the country.
Hosted by Carmiel Mayor Adi Eldar and facilitated by Shatil, the meeting addressed the central health issues facing Galilee residents including the diversion of patients to distant hospitals and clinics, the lack of rehabilitation facilities, and the lack of transparency in the use of government funds allocated to the healthcare for the periphery.
The northern region of Israel has a health profile significantly worse than the center, with a lower average life expectancy and an infant mortality rate that is more than twice as high. There are less than half as many doctors per capita compared to the national average and significantly fewer nurses and hospital beds relative to the population size.
The Arab-Jewish Citizen’s Forum for the Promotion of Health in the Galilee was established in November 2014 and is composed of graduates of Shatil’s Northern Health Equity Leadership Trainings conducted in cooperation with flagship NIF grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Galilee Society, JDC-ELKA, and other organizations.
“We are excited and encouraged by the participation of people in high places in our work toward health equity in the north,” said Shatil health project coordinator Lev Aran.