The foundation of the health system, including a countrywide network of medical services for prevention, diagnosis and treatment, was laid during the pre-state period by the Jewish community and the British Mandate authorities, which administered the Land of Israel from 1918 to 1948. Before this time, diseases such as dysentery, malaria, typhus and trachoma were rampant and health facilities practically non-existent in the land, then a backward and neglected part of the Ottoman Empire.
By 1948 when the State of Israel was established, the country's medical infrastructure was already well-developed, immunization was standard procedure and frameworks for improving environmental conditions were operative. In the early years of the state, the health services had to readdress some of the problems previously overcome in order to cope with the needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees from postwar Europe and various Arab countries. This challenge was met through a national effort involving the provision and distribution of health services as well as a far-reaching plan of health education and preventive medicine. Healt expenditure graph

Health Services :

The country's population is served by an extensive medical network comprising hospitals, clinics and mother-and-child-care centers. Hospitals offer care ranging from simple treatments to advanced procedures, including test tube births and heart, liver and bone-marrow transplants, while most outpatient services are available at neighborhood clinics. Mother-and-child care centers, which focus on the wellbeing of women during pregnancy and of children from birth to early childhood, offer prenatal examinations, early detection of mental and physical handicaps, vaccinations and health education.

Governmental Supervision :

Responsibility for all health services lies with the Ministry of Health, which prepares legislation and oversees its implementation; controls medical standards throughout the country; maintains food and drug quality standards; licenses medical personnel; and supervises the planning and construction of hospitals. In addition, the Ministry acts as a public health agency for environmental and preventive medicine. Its responsibilities also include research, audit and control, evaluation of health care and the allocation of resources.

Health Personnel :

The country's approximately 15,000 physicians pursue their profession as members of hospital staffs and neighborhood clinics as well as in private practice. About half of Israel's close to 20,000 nurses are registered nurses; an increasing proportion hold academic degrees. Training for medical professions is offered at four medical schools, two schools of dentistry, one of pharmacology and some 20 nursing schools, four of which grant academic degrees. Courses for physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nutritionists, as well as for x-ray and laboratory technicians, are also available at a number of institutions.

Health Insurance :

All residents are covered by the National Health Insurance Law, which provides a standardized basket of medical services, including hospitalization. The country's extensive medical network and high doctor-patient ratio are reflected in the low infant mortality rate (7.5 per 1000 live births) and high life expectancy (79.1 for women and 75.3 for men).
Kupat Holim Clalit, the first of the country's health insurance funds, evolved from a fund set up by Jewish workers to finance the salary of a single itinerant physician. In 1920, it was formally organized by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) to provide medical care for its members. Today, the majority of Israel's population is insured by Kupat Holim Clalit, which operates medical centers, hospitals and convalescent homes throughout the country, with a staff of thousands of physicians, nurses, technicians and administrative personnel.

Types of Hospitals :

Chronic Disease118

Health Problems :

Health problems are similar to those prevailing in the Western world. Since cancer and heart diseases account for two thirds of deaths, the study of these illnesses has been identified as a national priority. As people are living longer, medical care for the aging has also become an area of great concern.
Like most developed countries, Israel must cope with health problems stemming from the environmental conditions and lifestyles of the late 20th century. A long-term plan, presented recently to the Ministry of Health, includes recommendations for additional legislation and stresses the need to heighten the responsibility of individuals for their own health and safety. Health education programs are being widely utilized to sensitize the public to the necessity of stopping habits such as smoking, inappropriate or overeating and lack of physical exercise, which have proved detrimental to health.
Reducing traffic and occupational accidents continues to be a priority for the 1990s. Among other efforts, programs are being conducted to increase workers' and drivers' awareness of potential dangers.

Graph : National expenditure on health as a percentage of GNP.