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Israel’s Biggest Health Problem is Tuberculosis, JDC is Told

Thousands of sick and disabled immigrants in Israel have been helped by the Joint Distribution Committee’s medical and rehabilitation program to become useful, self-supporting citizens, Charles Passman, J.D.C. direct or for Israel, told the conference of J.D.C. field representatives here. He said the J.D.C. supported Malben program had become one of Israel’s largest health organizations, second only to the government’s health service and the Kupat Holim.

Despite the progress made in the past 21 months since Malben was organized, 1,000 new cases are referred to the organization monthly. He stressed the rehabilitation aspect of “Malben’s program, pointing out that it has already aided nearly 10,000, including members of families of patients, to become self-supporting.

Describing the rehabilitation program, he said it provided small loans, supplies, equipment and training to enable disabled immigrants to open shops in new settlements. Today, Malben patients operate 800 such shops serving 80,000 persons and doing $1,000,000 business yearly, he reported. Ninety-seven percent of these shop owners are self-supporting, while 80 percent have already begun repaying loans advanced by Malben. Another aspect of the rehabilitation program-is its system of sheltered workshops which provide jobs for disabled and post-tuberculosis patients and which also provide needed goods for the Israel economy.

“Our experience has shown that many persons formerly considered hopelessly ‘hard-core’ can become useful citizens,” the JDC director declared. “Malben thus feels that it is making a real contribution to the upbuilding of Israel and also in the individual rehabilitation of its people.”

He said that Israel’s single biggest health problem is TB. Before Malben at tacked the problem, he disclosed, Israel had only 300 beds for-TB cases. Since then the number has been tripled and Malben is now building a 500-bed TB hospital at Beer Yaakov, which will be the largest in the Middle East,

Insisting that Malben’s future program must stress rehabilitation and TB control, Passman asserted: “We can lick TB.” He proposed the establishment of a new community for 150 open TB cases where they can work. By the end 1952, he revealed, it is hoped to have hospitalization and medical care for 12,000 “hard-core” cases as well as rehabilitation care for additional thousands.

Among the many Malben achievements which the Israel director named were: provision of nearly 5,000 hospital beds; discharging of 300 cured monthly; construction of homes for the aged; provision of custodian care at a center for 2,000 patients; provision of ambulatory treatment for 3,500 persons; opening of a new home for 50 child mental patients; and, the inauguration of a nurses’ training program.

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