The government cabinet gave a green light on sunday to continuing the “Masa Doctors” project and will bring an additional 195 doctors from Diaspora Jewish communities to integrate into Israel’s health system.
The Prime Minister’s Office, the Health Ministry and the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience Ministry said in a joint statement that the cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel, and Negev, Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf to continue the ‘Masa Doctors’ plan, which brought 200 doctors to the Jewish State over the past 12 months.
All have been integrated as regular physicians in the Israeli health system.
“Today, we are approving an injection of encouragement into our health system by encouraging the arrival of doctors who are eligible to make aliyah to Israel. This is not only a Zionist effort, it is also an important step that will assist the health of us all,” Netanyahu said in his opening remarks to the cabinet.
“The major personnel problem in the Israeli health system, as it was expressed in the OECD report, requires focused effort,” Arbel noted.
“The Health Ministry under my leadership is investing considerable effort and resources in correcting the situation, including by reinforcing the health system with quality professionals who are eligible under the Law of Return, who are imbued with Zionist values and who want to tie their destinies with that of the State of Israel. This is another important step that looks to the future and which will assist in resolving the crisis.”
Wasserlauf added that his ministry will allocate approximately NIS 700,000 to finance designated stipends for immigrant doctors “with broad employment horizons and the potential to become highly integrated into the Israeli health system.”
Together with Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center, Wasserlauf said his ministry will work to “bring the highest medical standards in the country to benefit the residents of the entire south, and at the same time do our share of the important Zionist effort of integrating olim and gathering the exiles.”
The eight-month ‘Masa Doctors’ program has been in continuous operation since 2008 and includes both theoretical studies and practical training for experienced and qualified young doctors aged 22-40, with certificates from recognized universities. Its goal is to integrate them into the Israeli health system in a relatively short time.
More than 1,200 doctors have finished the program thus far, with approximately 95 percent of the program’s graduates having made aliyah and joined the Israeli health system.
The plan is currently being implemented in Be’er Sheva, in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University and the Soroka Medical Center, and in Haifa, in cooperation with Rambam Hospital.
Both regions have seen desperate shortages in the medical care system, and it is believed this injection of additional medical professionals could relieve some of the pressure.
“Most participants have chosen to stay in or around the cities in which they lived during the program, thereby contributing to the enrichment of the medical personnel in periphery areas in Israel,” the ministers added.
It is hoped that the additional doctors from abroad will be able to supplement — if not altogether replace — the medical professionals who apparently think their politics are more important than the health of their patients.
Thousands of doctors streamed into Jerusalem last month to attend a rally organized by the Israel Medical Association (IMA) to protest the Knesset vote on the first segment of the government’s planned judicial reforms.
The IMA claims to be an apolitical organization, even while it has encouraged medical professionals to rally against the decisions of a Knesset and government elected by a majority of the population.
The doctors, who wore red vests proclaiming their status as “Doctor” on the back, waved Israeli and IMA flags and yelled slogans like, “There is no healthcare without democracy!” and “Justice, equality and mutual responsibility!”