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Men live more of life in good health than women

The number of years in their lives during which Israeli women can expect to live in good health is 65.1, a bit lower than it is for men, who can look forward to 65.4 such years. Thus women can expect to live 77% of their lives with health that is good enough to not interfere with their functioning, compared to 81% of men’s lives.

These were some of the interesting figures unveiled by experts from the Central Bureau of Statistics during a conference on Monday at their Jerusalem headquarters devoted to well-being, sustainability and national resilience indicators for 2016.

This was only the third such report issued by the CBS since the government decided in 2015 to look at these factors. Of a total of 61 indicators, 29 showed improvement since 2015, eight showed a decline and the remaining 24 showed no change.

The CBS developed 14 new indicators regarding the national quality of life for the 2016 report. These included the number of healthy years; trust in the health system; healthful behaviors by the population (such as eating vegetables and fruits, exercising and not smoking); and new cases of malignancies.

Indicators that were monitored from previous years included life expectancy, infant mortality, body mass index, self-assessment of health and self-assessment of depression.

Only 16.1% of Israelis over the age of 21 said they observed a healthful way of life – eating five or more portions of vegetables or fruits daily, exercising regularly and not smoking. There were 30,524 new cases of cancer, at a rate of 371.5 per 100,000 people in one year. Of these, 16,591 were in women and 13,933 in men.

Arabs were more satisfied (84%) with the public health system than were Jews (73%). But there were major differences, depending on social status, education and place of residence.

Other factors in quality of life included leisure, culture and community; environmental quality; social and personal wellbeing; education; civil involvement and trust in government; housing and infrastructure; employment; personal safety; and information technology.

Prof. Danny Pfeffermann, the national statistician and director-general of the CBS, told the 60 people in the audience that the bureau’s aim is to help government, local authorities and others reach decisions that will improve quality of life. “I hope it will not be left in the drawer, but used for this purpose.”

Prof. Avi Simhon, head of the National Economics Council, said statisticians previously rated the country’s quality of life solely by the level of the gross domestic product, but this is far from ideal for assessing reality and getting decision-makers to invest effort and resources in a problem. “If we can show them that there is a problem, they are more likely to realize that they have to deal with it. It also helps the citizenly to assess government performance better,” he said.

Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto said his biggest worry was the rapid aging of the population, which threatens to overwhelm medical institutions. “We must change the paradigm and shift more healthcare to the patient’s home. Already in development are devices that will be able to monitor glucose levels in the blood using the cellphone – maybe even without taking a blood sample, but just putting a finger over the camera – digital electrocardiograms and electronic medicine cabinets. It will also be possible to detect cancer with blood tests. We can’t build enough new hospitals to deal with all aging patients, so we have to monitor and treat more at home,” Grotto declared.

A Health Page feature on the CBS conference will appear on Sunday, March 25.

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