As part of a discussion of the plight of parents of premature babies in the Public Inquiries Committee today on November 8, 2010, it emerged that there is a huge gap between the state's investment in increasing the birth rate and the assistance to parents after birth, especially premature births. As mentioned, in many cases, fertility treatments lead to premature births (at the end of the article there are links to items in the media surrounding the day of premature birth).
1. The Public Inquiries Committee of the Knesset
As part of a discussion of the plight of parents of premature babies in the Public Inquiries Committee today on November 8, 2010, it emerged that there is a huge gap between the state's investment in increasing the birth rate and the assistance to parents after birth, especially premature births. As mentioned, in many cases, fertility treatments lead to premature births.
The chairman of the committee MK Uri Makalev (Torah Judaism) said that "unlike in the past, the proportion of premature babies who survive birth is increasing, but many suffer from serious problems for years." According to him, the premature babies pay a high price for the technological improvements that allow them to survive but are accompanied by an impairment of their quality of life.
The CEO of the LAH association (for preemies in Israel) Arn Melbarger, himself the father of a preemie, said that the birth of a preemie is accompanied by trauma for the parents. He also said that from the release after the birth, they face long queues at child development institutes and milk drops, because there are no dedicated institutes, despite the need for increased monitoring. Malbarger demanded psychological assistance for the parents of premature babies.
Parents of premature babies asked to extend the maternity leave, because in the meantime, one of the couple had to leave his job in order to manage to take care of the premature baby. Tamar Katz, spokeswoman for the Hebrew Association and a mother of two premature babies (weighing 1.2 kg and 950 g) said that due to the pressure on premature babies, due to a lack of beds and medical staff, premature babies are released earlier than desired and often it ends with the premature babies being returned to the hospitals, sometimes in critical condition. Katz herself rushed to intensive care, with her premature daughter, who was discharged prematurely (due to shortness of breath).
The chairman of the Israeli Association for Neonatology (neonatal medicine), Prof. Shaul Dolberg, who also serves as the director of maternity at the Ichilov Hospital, said that the rate of premature visits to doctors is 5.6 times higher than that of normal newborns. According to him, child development centers and milk drops are not professional enough in the field. Dolberg said that treatment centers for premature babies should be established close to the hospitals for optimal treatment. Dr. Jacob Schiff, also from the union, said that the main problem is the minority of specialists in neonatology. According to him, this is an unpopular specialization where the salary is low. Dolberg noted that today there are 100 doctors in the field and in 5 years, 22 of them will retire. In 2011 only 2 interns will join. There is also a shortage in the material field - in beds and standards for nurses, etc. Dr. Dror Guberman, head of the community medicine division at the Ministry of Health, said that for 10 years there has been a general lack of standards and that there is not enough construction and recruitment of personnel.
Finally, parents of premature babies raised a number of demands: the transfer of the funds received for each birth in the hospitals directly to premature babies, in premature births, and they called on the state to encourage the specialization of doctors in the field. Also, they asked to receive clear instructions regarding the transportation and flight of premature babies. They also demanded that the Tipat Halav institutes be adapted to the treatment of premature babies. In response to this, Dr. Lisa Rubin, director of the Department of Mother and Child at the Ministry of Health, said that as of January 1, 2011, all milk drops and health insurance plans will have growth curves adjusted for premature babies.
MK Orli Levy (Israel Beitnou), who promotes the cause of families of premature babies in preparation for the International Day of Prematurity and initiated the discussion, said that if the state had invested more in the care of premature babies in their first months, by budgeting more for premature babies and establishing dedicated centers to care for them, in the long term , would have saved much higher treatment costs, in late stages.
2. The Health Committee of the Knesset
MK Levy-Abacsis: "It bothers me that there is a price tag on babies; He whose hand does not reach - his children will get sick and suffer"
From a discussion held in the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, it appears that parents who wish to vaccinate their children against a respiratory virus, have to part with a thousand dollars per kilogram of the child's weight
The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chaired by MK Haim Katz (Likud), today held a discussion on the need to expand the provision of the vaccine against RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus - a virus that damages the respiratory tract and causes a variety of infections).
From a document submitted by the Knesset's Research and Information Center, it appears that the vaccine is given as part of the health basket to premature babies and babies born prematurely up to the 31st week plus six days of pregnancy, and who are less than one year old at the time of vaccination. Premature babies and babies born prematurely from the 32nd week of pregnancy onwards are not eligible to receive the vaccine as part of the health services basket, unless they suffer from additional health problems related to lung and heart functions.
RSV is one of the common viruses that damage the respiratory tract and cause a wide variety of infections, such as rhinitis, ear infection and pneumonia. 75% of all patients with bronchiolitis developed disease due to RSV infection (346 of 465 children). 146 out of 1000 babies are infected with the virus; About 22,000 babies a year.
When a premature baby is discharged, his parents receive, together with the discharge letter and the medical summary, recommendations for continued treatment and private vaccinations, including a recommendation to vaccinate newborns born between the 32nd and 35th week of pregnancy against RSV. The cost of the vaccine is quite high (the cost of the material for one dose of the vaccine is about 1,000 NIS per kg of the vaccinated baby's weight), and the vaccine consists of five monthly doses. The average cost of the vaccine is therefore about NIS 20,000.
The Ministry of Health estimates that, assuming that the vaccine will be given to every baby born prematurely, without reference to the week of pregnancy at the time of birth, the budget required for this purpose this year may be about 60 million NIS. On top of that, the cost increases every year, according to the increase in the birth rate.
The chairman of the committee, MK Orli Levy-Abekasis (Israel Beytinu), opened the discussion and said: "Let's see how much a premature life is worth in Israel, and how much we are willing to invest to reduce diseases in the population. The virus can lead to repeated hospitalizations and even death. Countries around the world have found it appropriate to expand eligibility for vaccination, so that premature babies born up to the 35th week of pregnancy will also receive it. Whereas with us, they are only eligible until week 32. Ministry of Health data show that 75% of the vaccinated received the vaccine as part of the health basket, while 25% did so privately. And once again we encounter a problem, those who are not entitled according to the basket, have to finance the expensive medicine for their child out of their own pocket, and what do those whose hands are unable to reach do?"
Prof. Shaul Dolberg, Director of the Newborn and Prematurity Department at the Tel Aviv Medical Center: "Indeed, premature babies born up to week 35 are in a risk group. Most parents of premature babies are in a low socioeconomic status. When I recommend the vaccine, which they must purchase privately, they They tell me that they will be forced to sell the car or the house."
Oren Malbarger and Tamar Katz, parents of premature infants, added: "This vaccine saves lives. The feeling is unbearable, that your child may return to intensive care, just because he did not receive a vaccine. Indigent parents, such as students, turned to an exception committee to receive the vaccine anyway , and they answered in the negative."
MK Levy-Abekasis concluded the discussion and called on the Ministry of Health to conduct a comprehensive study regarding the costs and benefits of expanding the vaccine to premature infants born in the 35th week of pregnancy, and in the meantime allow the administration of vaccines to premature infants defined as belonging to the risk group.
Click to view Minutes No. 71 of the meeting of the Committee on Public Inquiries from Monday, Sunday in Kisloo 1771 (October 8, 2010), time 10:00
Click to view Protocol No. 361
From the meeting of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee from Monday, Monday in Kisloo 1771 (November 8, 2010), time 13:00