Health Care in East Jerusalem
‘The East Jerusalem Forum’ of the מכון ירושלים למחקרי מדיניות - Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research in cooperation with FNF Jerusalem continues to study the pressing problems of service provision to the residents of East Jerusalem in order to formulate their policy recommendations for decision makers.
This time the monthly round table tackled the issue of health care in East Jerusalem. Researchers, representatives of the municipality, government ministries and NGOs engaged in improving the service for the residents of East Jerusalem, came to listen to Dr. Amin Kunbar, who talked about his challenging tasks as the coordinator and regulator of the health maintenance organizations in East Jerusalem on behalf of the District Office of the Health Ministry.
There are 88 clinics and 6 hospitals, which serve a population of approx. 350.000 residents of East Jerusalem as well as Palestinians coming from the West Bank as well as Gaza. In Israeli hospitals in West Jerusalem, Palestinian residents receive treatment like any other Israeli citizen, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza need special vouchers. The majority of the 88 medical clinics are being operated by franchisees of the four main health maintenance organizations and as such do not need a license, only a minority of the health care centres are operated by the maintenance organizations themselves. This means they are highly profit oriented and compete with each other.
Locations of the clinics are not always beneficial for the residents. There is a lack of professional supervision of the clinics and therefore there are those who demand that the health maintenance organizations will directly operate their branches in East Jerusalem neighborhoods. Others oppose the presence of official Israeli organizations in East Jerusalem and there are obstacles posed to Israeli companies to find buildings to rent from local owners for opening official branches. In addition there is still a lack of mother and child centres, of emergency unites at the hospitals in East Jerusalem and a severe lack in professional qualified personnel in the field of psychiatry. Another problem is the lack of official health insurance for babies born in Jerusalem who have one parent from the West Bank. UNRWA is providing health care only to refugees with a refugee certificate and they do not operate according to Israeli regulations but cooperate with the PA in the West Bank.