Medical journal Lancet publishes edition dedicated to health in Israel

Special issue comes three years after prestigious medical journal carried piece accusing Israel of war crimes


The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and best-known medical journals has published a special issue on health in Israel, three years after printing a piece accusing Israel of war crimes.

The British publication released the special issue, ‘Health in Israel: Progress and Challenges in a Region of Conflict’, this week. It was guest-edited by A Mark Clarfield of Ben-Gurion University.

In 2014 the Lancet published ‘An open letter for the people of Gaza’, which criticised the actions of Israel during that year’s Gaza conflict yet failed to attribute any blame to Hamas.

The letter, composed by five senior doctors and signed by 24, read: “People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life.

“Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity.”

It was later revealed two of the authors, Dr Paola Manduca and Dr Swee Ang, spread an antisemitic video by David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, to contacts via email.

Later in 2014 during a visit to Israel Dr Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, said he “deeply regretted” the fallout the letter caused. A number of senior doctors resigned from advisory boards of his publication, with others calling for a boycott of every title produced by the Lancet’s publishing company, Elsevier.

The Israel edition, one of a series of health analyses published by the Lancet, investigates progress towards universal health coverage, and explores unique aspects and challenges of healthcare in Israel.

The papers, authored by academics and policy makers in Israel, offer "constructive recommendations on improving the country's healthcare system" and advice on how to tackle health inequalities.

Israel's healthcare system was praised by the Lancet, which said: "Israel's health system ensures that a basket of health services are provided for its 8.5 million citizens, mostly free at point of service, which has led to strong progress in the health of the Israeli population."

Life expectancy in Israel has increased "substantially" since 1993, while infant mortality has halved.

The journal did, however, point out Israel's persisting "ethnic and geographic health inequalities". 

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