Physicians organized in the Israel Medical Association (IMA) union are preparing to commence a strike in the coming days if the Finance Ministry does not agree to continue funding the salaries of some 600 doctors and 1,600 nurses who were hired during the COVID-19 crisis. The Finance and Health ministries initially committed to fund the positions only until the end of June 2021.
“The epidemic is fading, the cameras and journalists have left the hospitals, and finance officials are attacking the health of Israeli citizens,” charged the president of the Israel Medical Association, Prof. Zion Hagay. “Under the auspices of political chaos, finance officials are trying to erase 600 doctors who went to work in the starving public health system during the coronavirus pandemic, and the consequence will have a negative impact on the health of Israeli citizens to the point of harming human life.” The positions were added last July, four months into the crisis, to what was considered an already underfunded and starved health system.
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) has explained, “Because of the governments’ neo-liberal economic and social policy, Israel has been neglecting its public health system from the 1980s and the situation has grown increasingly worse since that time.”
Israel entered the coronavirus crisis with the highest hospital occupancy rate of any member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).