Israel's high standards of health services, top-quality medical resources and research, modern hospital facilities and an impressive ratio of physicians and specialists to population are reflected in the country's low infant mortality rate (7.5 per 1,000 live births) and long life expectancy (79.1 years for women, 75.3 for men). Health care for all, from infancy to old age, is ensured by law and the national expenditure on health (8.2 percent of the GNP) compares favorably with that of other developed countries.
These clinics expanded to become hospitals: Bikur Holim (est. 1843), Misgav Ladach (est. 1888) and Shaare Zedek (est. 1902), which still function today, offering up-to-date services with modern medical technology.
The Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, with schools of medicine, nursing and pharmacology and two modern hospitals, traces its beginning to two nurses who were sent to Jerusalem in 1913 by the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America.
The country's population is served by an extensive medical network comprising hospitals, outpatient clinics and centers for preventive medicine and rehabilitation. Hospital care includes highly advanced procedures and techniques, from in vitro fertilization, CAT scans and complicated brain surgery to bone marrow and organ transplants. Mother-and-child care centers, for women during pregnancy and children from birth to early childhood, offer prenatal examinations, early detection of mental and physical disabilities, immunizations, regular pediatric check-ups and health education.
Training for medical professions is offered at four medical schools, two schools of dentistry, one of pharmacology and some 20 nursing schools, four of which grant academic degrees. Courses for physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nutritionists, as well as for x-ray and laboratory technicians, are available at a number of institutions.
The main sources of funding are a monthly health insurance tax of up to 4.8 percent of income, collected by the National Insurance Institute, and employer participation in the cost of insurance for their employees. The insurance schemes are reimbursed according to a weighted average number of insured persons, calculated by age, distance of home from a health facility and other criteria determined by the Ministry of Health.
Magen David Adom, Israel's emergency medical service, provides a network of first aid stations, a nationwide blood donor program, blood banks and first aid courses, a public ambulance service, which includes intensive care units. The organization functions with the help of 4,500 volunteers, many of them high school students, who serve at some 40 branches throughout the country.