MDA pledge for Israel's Holocaust survivors

Holocaust survivors living in Israel and in need of emergency medical care will no longer have to worry about finding the money thanks to the efforts of Magen David Adom donors in Britain and France.

The contribution, which affects the more than 240,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, was revealed at Britain's annual MDA dinner in London on Wednesday.

Stuart Glyn, the chair of the UK branch, explained that the organisation and its French partner would now underwrite all MDA-related costs incurred by survivors. At present, those expenses are paid for from insurance or individual savings, yet more than half of the survivors live below the poverty line and struggle to pay bills.

Israel does not have a national health service, and individuals often have to pay when MDA, which is largely staffed by volunteers, is called out to their rescue.

Mr Glyn said that when MDA UK was alerted to the plight of survivors, "we were moved to act".

"Over half [of survivors in Israel] are unable to pay for the most basic of medical services," he said. "We believe this situation to be unacceptable.

"No Holocaust survivor ever need worry about the cost of seeking medical help."

The plans chime with those of the British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould. Earlier this year Mr Gould announced plans to help combat loneliness amongst survivors by raising £2 million for social projects.

He called the MDA UK plans a "wonderful gesture". "We owe it to the survivors to ensure that they live out their lives in comfort and dignity. This announcement is an important step towards that goal."

Last updated: 10:38am, October 6 2011