Congratulations! We are proud to announce that the official directive of the Ministry of Health that deals with cultural competency in the health system in Israel has finally been published!
For a number of years the field of cultural competency has been backed by the weight of law abroad, albeit in varying ways and degrees of obligation. Thus, for example the “National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS)” require health care institutions in the USA to maintain standards of language accessibility, and to be subject to government inspection. In Israel, on the other hand, any implementation of cultural competency measures depends on the goodwill of decision makers in the system. This directive changes that.
The JICC pushed for instituting standards / requirements similar to practice abroad, starting in the summer of 2010. We drafted documents that helped the Ministry of Health in formulating the directive. For the first time, this directive delineates principles and standards for cultural accessibility in health care organizations and institutions on a national level. This will include translation services, education and training of medical staffs, environmental adaptations of the institutions, and more. Our documents, “Guidelines to Assimilating Approaches of Cultural Competency in Health Care Organizations in ISrael”, as well as a more detailed “Guide to Accessibility Manual”, helped in the process and are intended to serve as authoritative guides for professionals in Israel.
This directive is revolutionary on a national level, and signifies a change in policy for the entire health care system as well as each health care organization. It is based on our successes in Jerusalem, thanks to our collaboration with the Jerusalem Foundation, the New Israel Fund and Emun Hatsibur. Our task is not yet finished – we believe there will be a long, hard road ahead in engaging and assimilating all the different guidelines in the directive – for many of these changes require money and health care institutions’ budgets are already stretched too thin. But today we reached an important benchmark in creating an excellent point of reference in the area of fighting inequality in the health care system and working toward equal access and cultural competency.
Our next task is to work to assimilate the standards in health care institutions in the city (apparently we will need to help to do this beyond Jerusalem as well), and to integrate principles in the directive in other systems in Jerusalem (Municipality, National government, businesses, etc.). The health system is just the first that is internalizing this approach!