Health Ministry strikes deal for epidural shipments, alleviating fears of shortage

Israel Midwives Association says ministry has located alternate sources for anesthesia kits, easing the concerns of many pregnant women

A doctor prepares an epidural (Dmitry Andreev via iStock by Getty Images)
A doctor prepares an epidural (Dmitry Andreev via iStock by Getty Images)

The Health Ministry has secured two deals to replenish Israel’s stock of epidural kits, averting a feared shortage in supplies of the anesthesia commonly administered during childbirth.

The Israel Midwives Association confirmed the news, releasing a statement saying that there “is no shortage, nor expected shortage” of the kits.

According to the organization, the Health Ministry has struck deals with several other sources of epidural supplies, “and as we have been saying, there is not and will not be a situation where a woman who wants to give birth with an epidural cannot do so.”

News of a potential shortage broke a month ago, worrying some pregnant women over the prospect of giving birth without the option of an epidural.

Health officials quickly jumped in to alleviate their concerns, noting that the country still had several months of the drug in stock — giving it time to locate new sources.

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said last month that there was no cause for concern on the matter.

“I can say that at the moment there is no shortage: all hospitals have enough [epidural] kits for the next few weeks, and we are making every effort so that there will not be a shortage afterwards,” Ash told the Ynet news site.

Ash noted that an epidural was a “basic service” supplied by hospitals, and that while it was mainly used for women in labor, there are other medical situations in which they are administered.

The ministry director-general also said that lessons needed to be learned about letting the health service be so dependent on one supplier.

“The question arises of how we manage the market, [for Israel] not to be in the hands of one company. I would like the market to be divided between more companies more equally,” Ash said.

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