'Failure to Appoint Health Minister Is Like Outbreak of Disease'

The decision to leave the health ministry without a full-time minister is similar to the outbreak of a disease, the chairwoman of Israel's nurses association said on Friday.

Ilana Cohen made the comments at an emergency conference held by the Israel Medical Association.

Doctors, nurses, hospital directors and HMO representatives convened for the meeting in Tel-Aviv to mark the beginning of a public campaign, lead by the IMA, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint a health minister.

The officials delivered a petition to Netanyahu, urging him to immediately appoint a full-time minister for the position in order to advance necessary reform in the health establishment.

"The health establishment needs an authoritative leader... The decision to settle on a deputy minister for such a vital position poses questions as to the importance you give to the Health Ministry," said the petition.

"We wonder whether the decision can be seen as an indication of your intention to weaken the health establishment even further eventually, be run by the Finance Ministry," the petition added.

It further stated that that the decision not to appoint a health minister was "unheard of in western countries, is a dangerous precedent, and instills instability and uncertainty into the heath establishment."

United Arab List-Ta'al Chairman MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, meanwhile, said Friday that the move displayed contempt toward the public's health and well-being.

"The health portfolio is considered a top portfolio in all of the progressive countries, while the Israeli government back away from it as if it was on fire," said Tibi.