Major Victory for Public Health

3 July 2014

The German Health Committee (named after its chairwoman, Minister of Health Yael German) has cancelled the provision of private, fee-for-service care in public hospitals (known by the acronym SHARAP). This follows a campaign led by NIF grantees the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), and the Adva Center. “There can be no quality health system without a quality public health system, and a public system must depend on public funds,” German said. “If we depend on private services, it would cause the government not to invest public funds into the system.”

In recent years, wealthy Israelis have augmented their medical care with special services in public hospitals. The inequity of medical care thus provided violates Israel’s longstanding commitment to equality and accessibility of health care services.

In addition, the committee has decided to adopt many other of the campaign’s recommendations. An additional billion shekels granted to the Health Ministry will be used to shorten waiting times at hospitals and for implementing other measures which will provide quality healthcare for all Israelis, irrespective of income.

An ACRI spokesperson said: “The combination of strong public support for the public health system together with a critical media succeeded in standing against a broad coalition of interests that sought to further privatize the health system. Now is the time to return to a more egalitarian system of public health care and to implement all of the models that ACRI and its associates presented to the German Health Committee.”

Coming three years after the 2011 social justice protests, this victory is a significant breakthrough. The NIF network will ensure the recommendations are implemented, and continue advocating for an increased health budget.

Photo Credit: “Littmann Stethoscope” by Flickr user Medisave UK.