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Healthy Israel 2020: Israel’s Blueprint for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Abstract

Israel’s health system evolved over the past century and achieved universal coverage in 1995. Health status indicators have improved dramatically over the past decades and are now generally excellent compared with those of OECD countries. The Healthy Israel 2020 (HI2020) initiative was launched by the Ministry of Health in 2005 with the goal of creating a preventive blueprint to improve the quality of life, increase overall longevity, and maximize health equity among Israelis. Twenty committees were charged with generating reports that addressed health determinants such as health behaviors, health states such as infectious disease, age-related health states, or infrastructural aspects such as preventive education and training. Reports presented the local and international epidemiologic data, generated objectives and year 2020 targets, and compiled evidence-based interventions to achieve them. Obstacles included uneven committee leadership, redefinition and expansion of focus areas, and the absence of formal prioritization methods, among others. Nevertheless, significant progress occurred, and by 2009, a variety of scientific products had been generated. These ranged from scientific reports to peer-reviewed publications and scientific conference presentations. The first three reports dealt with key lifestyle behaviors: obesity control, enhancing physical activity, and healthful nutrition. These then served as the foundation for a major spinoff of the initiative, the National Program for the Promotion of an Active and Healthy Lifestyle. HI2020 has been a key factor in the development of tobacco control legislation, alcohol control efforts, pediatric injury control, skin cancer prevention, and intervention programs to prevent chronic disease in the disabled. Implementation efforts are refined through workshops attended by key professionals and other stakeholders. Future challenges include the timely updating of the reports, enhancing dissemination of lay and scientific information via traditional and social media, enhanced prioritization and funding of the initiative, and adoption of a cost-effective policy implementation program.

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Correspondence to Elliot Rosenberg MD, MPH.

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Key Words

  • Health targeting
  • Israel
  • health promotion
  • disease prevention
  • implementation