Health Ministry report highlights gaps in healthcare delivery in Arab sector

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Inequalities in healthcare in Israel need to be reduced according to research the Health Ministry shares publicly today.

The ministry’s “Inequalities in the Healthcare System and How to Address Them” report, based on data from 2022, specifically highlights lacunae in healthcare delivery in the Arab sector and the difficulties the country’s growing population faces in scheduling appointments for medical services.

According to the report, the overall average life expectancy is now 82.7. The highest life expectancies are in the greater Tel Aviv area (84) and Judea and Samaria (83.9). Residents of the northern and southern regions of the country have the lowest life expectancy (81.3).

Jews and non-Arabs with the highest life expectancy live in the greater Tel Aviv area (84.3) and Jerusalem (84.1). The life expectancy among Arabs is lower and the highest life expectancy can be found among those living in the north (80.1) and Jerusalem (79.3).

Although newborn mortality rates in Israel have decreased by 20 percent in the last decade and are lower than the OECD average, there are still 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births among Arabs and 2.1 per 1,000 among Jews. The report suggests that the gap can be attributed in part to culturally different attitudes toward prenatal genetic testing and inequalities in access to women’s and children’s health services.

The report indicates that there are significant inequalities in the number of doctors, including specialists and surgeons, in various areas of the country.

The number of hospital beds countrywide went down over the last 10 years, with the impact seen mostly in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. The north and south retained their number of beds, but inequalities between those regions and Israel’s larger cities have not been significantly reduced.

Finally, the data shows that visits to hospital emergency rooms are higher in areas categorized as lower on the socioeconomic scale. This holds for Jewish, Arab and mixed communities. This appears to be a result of insufficient community healthcare infrastructure in these communities.

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