Towards an integrated adolescent health policy in Israel

Barry Knishkowy, Yona Amitai, Alex Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The principle health issues of Israeli adolescents are largely related to health risk behaviors, and are therefore preventable. Deciding which public health interventions are of highest priority ought to be determined according to the relative importance of these issues among Israeli youth. Violence in the schools and dieting to lose weight are highly prevalent in this population, with unintentional accidents, smoking and other substance abuse, and reproductive health being other important issues. Special health planning considerations that take into account Israel's unique population mix are necessary. Israel does not yet have a comprehensive, integrated health policy for youth. Nevertheless, legislation has been enacted that provides universal national health insurance, as well as preventive school health services to all school children from the 1st to 9th grade under the Ministry of Health's responsibility, setting the foundations for such a comprehensive youth health policy. In addition, policy makers and health care providers have recently recognized the need for a pro-active approach regarding health service development for adolescents. In this article, we give an overview of current Israeli health policies that impact upon the adolescent population, and propose seven priority areas that should be addressed in order to advance the health of youth in this country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Caring for adolescents is Israel is hampered by legal restrictions upon confidentiality. These restrictions create barriers to care that often dissuade teenagers from utilizing health services. There is a need to redefine the adolescent's legal right to independently receive health care. Most of the country's multidisciplinary adolescent health clinics are funded by municipalities, health funds, and by local health districts of the Ministry of Health. This situation leaves large segments of the adolescent population without access to these services, while existing services are dependent upon the continued, non-obligatory support of these institutions. These are issues that should be corrected in the Knesset by making these clinics part of the "basket of services" required by the National Health Insurance Law. In addition, capitation rates, much lower for adolescents than for adults over 40 years, should be changed to give financial incentives for providers to care for this age group. Additional legislation is needed regarding a number of issues, including mandatory bicycle helmet use, and there needs to be more effective enforcement of existing laws such as the prohibition of smoking on school grounds.


  • Adolescents
  • Health planning
  • Health policy
  • Israel
  • Teenagers


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