The death rate of Jewish infants in Palestine has been reduced from 131.3 per 1,000 births in 1925 to 90 per 1,000 births in 1929, while the infant mortality rate among the Arabs rose in that period from 200.5 to almost 305, according to a statement issued by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which conducts the largest medical and health agency in the Holy Land. In 1928 there were 95 deaths of Jewish infants per 1,000 births, and 203 among Arabs.
These figures, the statement says, are taken from the 1929 report of the Department of Health of the Government of Palestine. It is pointed out that the infant mortality rate among Arabs, which is almost 44 percent higher than among Jews, reflects the difficulties encountered by modern medical institutions in Palestine in influencing the Moslems toward an acceptance of scientific methods to replace superstitions and taboos. Of the 5,000 babies born of Jewish parents last year 3,800 were registered in the twenty-one health welfare centers of Hadassah, and nearly 950 in the three similar centers conducted by the Women’s International Zionist Organization. Thus while ninety-four percent of the Jewish babies were given medical supervision and care the non-Jewish population took small advantage of the centers.
Wherever Jewish or Moslem populations predominate striking comparisons exist in the death rate. Whereas the wholly Jewish city of Tel Aviv had an infant death rate of about 75 per 1,000 in 1929, the wholly Arab town of Bethlehem lost over 300 and Nablus over 175 out of every 1,000 infants born. In Jaffa, which is preponderantly Arab, 200 out of every 1,000 Arab infants died. In Tiberias, which has a mixed population, the Arabs take more advantage of the Hadassah health service, and here the infant death rate was accordingly lower, 115 per 1,000.