Universal health care for all falls short in Israel’s north and south

Ido, father to three autistic children, lives in Beer Sheba, in Israel’s south. Even though Beer Sheba is the largest city in the Negev region, there are an inadequate number of therapists within easy traveling distance. The result is that to get basic medical and paramedical services, including vital therapies, Ido has no choice but to travel outside the city several times a week in order to bring the children to therapy sessions.

One of his children needs to be taken all the way to Jerusalem for therapy  – 70 miles (113 kilometers) away and on public transport. Not surprisingly, Ido finds he can no longer work because, as he says, “there is never any time”. The economic pressures on a family like Ido’s, along with the challenges of trying to do the best for three children with serious disabilities, are simply heart-breaking.

Ido’s story and similar experiences of other residents of Israel’s distant south are depicted in this recent (Hebrew) video documentary highlighting the alarming lack of access to therapies in Israel’s periphery communities, produced and shown by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

At the Malki Foundation, we know this reality only too well. In response to the serious lack of access to health care in the southern and northern peripheries, our Zlata Hersch Memorial Therapists on Wheels Program (TOW) brings therapists into the homes of children with severe disabilities who desperately need paramedical therapies and have no or few options close by. We hope that our work, and videos like this one, can be beacons of light to bring more attention to this dire problem.