Fight Over Funding Delaying Haifa Kids' Dental Care Program

Haifa's dental care project for children, which was scheduled to launch last January, will soon mark a full year on hold, as the municipality and the Health Ministry, the two bodies charged with leading the project, fight over funding.

As the two offices blame each other for the colossal delay, the 2,000 would-be patients and their parents are forced to do without dental procedures they cannot afford.

The breakdown concerns the budget for the NIS 500,000 program. The city says it has not received all the funds the ministry pledged for the program, while the ministry denies this and says the city is to blame for the delays.

The first phase of the Dental Health Project aims to instruct Haifa's 14,000 elementary school students about proper preventative dental care.

The second phase will offer dental care to 2,000 pupils from poor homes.

According to the agreement between the city and the Health Ministry, the ministry was supposed to provide two-thirds of the funding, while the city was supposed to make up the rest.

The contractor that was hired to carry out the project, the Yeorit Dental Clinic, already has completed the first stage. But the clinic says it has not been paid in full for the first phase, and will not begin the second phase until the city antes up.