Diabetes Care for the Arab-Israelis of Kfar Kassem

Kfar Kassem is a hilltop Arab-Israeli city located about twenty kilometers east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line separating Israel and the West Bank, on the southern portion of the "Little Triangle" of Arab-Israeli towns and villages. Today Kfar Kassem is one of the largest Arab-Israeli communities in Israel with over 17,000. It is also amongst the communities most severely afflicted with diabetes.

The Israeli health-care system's clinic in Kfar Kassem provides general medical care to most of Kfar Kassem's population, treating approximately 10,400 patients annually. The clinic sees about 412 cases of diabetes annually, which is over 10% of patients over the age of 24. Its services are often insufficient, especially for diabetics. On its own, the Kfar Kassem Clinic cannot offer any but the most rudimentary treatment to diabetic patients and these general services are provided by family physicians with no expertise in diabetes.

The Israeli National Health Insurance Bill enacted in 1995 entitles every Israeli resident to a basic medical care package, yet many of the medical clinics among poverty stricken Arab-Israeli communities remain unable to offer many necessary specialized treatments. In March 2007 the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management published a survey of diabetic patients in a typical Arab-Israeli town and found that Arab-Israelis experience many financial and cultural barriers to effective diabetes control. More than a third of the respondents reported not receiving any counseling on issues such as foot care or the effects of smoking on diabetes. Misconceptions attributable to social norms are common, and more than a third of sufferers forgo taking medications for financial reasons.

In the past year, the Rabin Medical Center has provided, free of charge, much needed specialized care for diabetic patients in the Kfar Kassem, but the program has ceased for lack of funding. Through this program, the Rabin Medical Center offered equipment and experts to treat diabetics and training for both the local medical staff and broader community. The aim has been to build a local capacity to deal with the endemic occurrence of diabetes and aid to those currently suffering with the disease.

The American Friends of Rabin Medical Center is currently seeking support for this program, which will help to foster the well-being of a needy community and good will amongst Arab-Israelis. If you here are at all interested in supporting this program, regardless of how, please contact us. Even a contribution of $50 or more could help us towards our goal of $25,000 to fund the program for a year.

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