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PA says still sending patients abroad despite costs
Published Wednesday 11/12/2013 (updated) 12/12/2013 22:07
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(MaanImages/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Sending Palestinian patients to receive medical treatment abroad at the expense of the Palestinian Authority’s treasury is a costly process but necessary due to a lack of local hospitals and medical centers.

The Palestinian Authority has been trying to rely on local medical centers and skilled specialists have reduced the financial burden of referrals to hospitals abroad and in Israel which costs the PA millions of shekels, says Midhat Taha, who heads a health committee affiliated to the president’s office.

Taha told Ma’an Tuesday that the PA continued to refer patients for treatment outside Palestine, but the rate of referrals is being reduced.

Palestinian hospitals and medical centers, he added, have very skilled specialists, but there are still special cases which need treatment abroad. A special medical committee within the Ministry of Health determines which cases should be sent for treatment abroad, he added.

The ministry offers medical treatment to Palestinian citizens who choose to subscribe to a health insurance services either individually or through their employers. All public sector employees compulsorily join this health insurance service for which a small portion of their wage is deducted.

Referrals are still a burden for the PA because they cost the treasury millions of shekels every year on the one hand, and on the other hand they take long time to coordinate with hospitals abroad and in Israel, added Taha.

The PA, he highlighted, brings medical delegations and skilled specialists from different countries to work in Palestinian hospitals as a way to exchange expertise.

With regard to medical aid to the Gaza Strip, Taha says 47 percent of the budget of the ministry is dedicated to the health sector there. Medicines and medical equipment are sent regularly to the Gaza Strip, and whenever there are special needs, medical requirements are sent exceptionally.
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