Israel’s Health Ministry presented new figures revealing major gaps in Israeli society: While some enjoy high life expectancy with access to doctors & crucial treatments, other suffer from diabetes, heart diseases & obesity.
By Yaron Kelner
Want to be healthy? You have a better chance of that if you’re a Jewish educated and wealthy native Israeli woman living in central Israel . According to figures compiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics and published by the Health Ministry, Arabs live less, new immigrants are more prone to illnesses and the lower socioeconomic classes eat less healthy food.
The data were presented ahead of a conference titled: “Health System Deals with Inequality.”
Life expectancy: Jews live longer
The figures reveal that the inequality between different populations in Israel is reflected first of all in life expectancy. While Jewish women live 84 years on average and Jewish men live 80.6 years, Arab women live 80.7 years and Arab men live only 76.9 years.
While lift expectancy has been increasing in recent years all over the world, including in Israel, among Israeli Arab women there has been since 2010, when their life expectancy was 81.2 years.
And where in Israel do people live the longest? While the average life expectancy in Israel is 80.8 years, in Raanana people live 85.5 years on average, in Modiin – 84.1 years and in Beit Shemesh – 83 years. The lowest life expectancy can be found in Arab communities: 77.1 years in Rahat and 77.9 in Nazareth.
Arab towns lead in mortality rates
Mortality rates also point to a big gap between Jewish and Arab communities. Modiin Illit recorded 2.5 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants, Shoham had three deaths to 1,000, Gedera – 3.3 to 1,000, and the Bedouin village of Hura – 3.5 per 1,000.
The 10 cities with the highest mortality rates are all Arab, led by Jisr az-Zarqa with 9.2 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants, and followed by I’billin and Ma’ale Iron (8.5)
Educated people less prone to diabetes
The figures further reveal that immigrants and people with a lower education level are more prone to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases. Among immigrants from Asian countries the diabetes morbidity rate is 155 per 1,000 people, and among immigrants from Africa – 154 per 1,000. Among native Israelis it is only 24 per 1,000.
As the education drops, the proneness to illnesses increases. While among people with more than 16 school years 30 per 1,000 people get sick, among those with up to eight school years the rate goes up to 154 to 1,000. Unemployed people are also more prone to diseases – 107 per 1,000 people compared to 41 per 1,000 among the employed.
Among native Israelis, 55 per 1,000 people suffer from high blood pressure, but the numbers are much higher among immigrants: 345 per 1,000 among Israelis who immigrated from Asia, 268 per 1,000 among Israelis who immigrated from Africa and 247 among immigrants from the former USSR.
Education plays a part here in proneness to high blood pressure too. Among people with less than eight school years there are 268 patients per 1,000, compared to only 89 among people with more than 16 school years.
The figures are similar in regards to heart diseases as well: Only 14 per 1,000 native Israelis suffer from these diseases, compared to 70 per 1,000 of immigrants from the former USSR and 64 per 1,000 among immigrants from Africa. Among people with up to eight school years, 62 per 1,000 suffer from heart diseases compared to only 21 per 1,000 among people with more than 16 school years.
More poor people are overweight
Half of the Israeli public suffers from overweight or obesity, but the less established classes suffer more. According to the figures, 53.5% of people who earn up to NIS 2,000 (about $570) a month, 55.9% of Arabs and 63.25% of people with up to eight school years are not at a normal weight.
The figures show that this does not only have to do with health problems and illnesses, but even with giving up on food. The inquiry revealed that 18% of the population gave up on food in the past year, but the figures are even worse among immigrants (27.2%), unemployed (29.3%), Arabs (30.2%), people with less than eight school years (30.5%) and those who earn less than NIS 2,000 a month.
Periphery lags behind in number of doctors
While is the population in the periphery less healthy? One reason can be found in the deployment of medical staff: While in Tel Aviv there are 4.5 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants and in Haifa 4.3 per 1,000, in the north there are only 1.7 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants and in the south – 2.8. In Haifa there are 7.1 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants and in Tel Aviv – 5.8, much more than in the periphery: 3.9 per 1,000 in the north and 3.3 in the south.
In the periphery there are also less hospital beds – 14. per 1,000 inhabitants in the south and 1.58 in the north, while in Haifa and Jerusalem there are 2.3 beds per 1,000 and in Tel Aviv – 2.1.
Twelve percent of the respondents admitted that they had given up on treatment or medicines because they couldn’t afford them – only 7% of respondents in Tel Aviv and 10% in central Israel. Ten percent gave up on treatment because it was too far away, while in Tel Aviv only 4% gave up on treatment for that reason.
Health Ministry ‘working to close gaps’
“There is a link between education and living a healthier lifestyle and physical activity. Disadvantaged populations cannot purchase whole-wheat products which are healthier,” explains Dr. Tuvia Horev, deputy director general at the Health Ministry’s Health Economics and Insurance Unit.
“The health system has to deal with gaps it is responsible for, like in the fields of infrastructures, and we do that by favoring the periphery in adding hospital beds, but also with differences in lifestyle and economic barriers. We are also carrying out activities there to bridge the gaps.”
“The inequality in health is the result of the social-economic gaps in Israel,” says Health Ministry Director-General Ronni Gamzu. “The public health system is a main tool for closing the gaps. We will continue working tirelessly to narrow the gaps, although the fruits of the hard labor will only be seen in a few years.”
Physicians for Human Rights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in response to the report that “one of the main causes of the deterioration in the population’s health is poverty and a weakened social-economic situation.
“The Health Ministry cannot deal on its own with this problem, which is based on factors that is it not exclusively responsible for. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive governmental plan.”
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4460105,00.html