Health Minister Asked to Explain Why Cancer Wasn't Mapped in Arab Sector

The Center against Racism and the Arrasid environmental organization have petitioned the High Court of Justice to order Health Minister Dan Naveh to explain why there has been no geographic mapping of cancer in Israel's Arab sector.

The petition follows a report in Haaretz on March 28 which reported that the document mapping the distribution of such diseases in Israel in the years 1984-1999 includes only one Arab town, the Bedouin town of Rahat. The two groups, and various other bodies, have asked the Health Ministry several times to ask why Arab communities are not included. In October, the head of the ministry's cancer registration unit, Dr. Micha Barhana, said, "Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to process and publish a mapping of disease in the Arab sector because of budgetary problems which make it impossible to access to the Population Registry, and because patients' addresses have not been updated during recent years."

The petitioners say that the proportion of Arab citizens with cancer has been increasing during the past 35 years and is higher than that among the country's Jewish citizens. "Cancer is the second most common cause of death among Israeli Arabs," they say.

The petitioners say the refusal to map cancer in the Arab communities constitutes "severe discrimination" between the two sectors and is unacceptable in a democratic and egalitarian society."