Good News Israel

Compliments of Anglo Saxon Ra’anana

· We’ve reported on Israel’s extraordinary contribution to the discovery and development of innovative drugs and medical equipment but what about Isaac and Sarah Israel who fall ill and have to be treated as patients and not as beneficiaries of all these technological wonders [see Quote for the Week above]. Here are a few items that help in a small way to make illness that little bit easier to bear:

· There is a patient’s bill of rights written, unsurprisingly, in Hebrew. But now speakers of languages other than Hebrew will be getting a warmer welcome from the country’s medical system due to a directive issued this week that all medical forms must be available in Arabic, Russian, English and Amharic in addition to Hebrew. The institutions’ websites will have to be in the five languages as well.

· Help is also at hand for those, like us at GN, who forget to take their medication when they should. The reminder is as close as your mobile phone and which Israeli, man, woman and child, hasn’t got at least one of those? It works like this you see; you give your health fund your pill schedule, they enter it into a computer and this cyber wizard will send you an SMS reminding you that tablet time has arrived. A wonderful service, unless, like us, you forget where you’ve put your phone. Who knows perhaps they’ll find a solution to that one too.

· We interviewed people about to be hospitalized for surgery and this is what we heard: they – the patient and his wife- met with the staff about two weeks before; the first hour-long meeting was with the senior doctor on the ward who together with the patient trimmed down an awesomely large medical file to a one pager for quick reference by the surgeons with the doctor, a busy man, explaining all the way; they then met with the anesthetist – the unsung heroes of the OR -, who examined the patient and elicited all the information needed; then came the charge nurse, who recognized the patient from a previous visit and treated him like an old friend, remembering details that he himself had forgotten: they then went on to meet with the complete team, twelve people, including two professors. The patients comment; they were totally user-friendly. All through this, they never felt rushed, they were encouraged to ask questions, they were treated with dignity, understanding and kindness and they came away with the feeling that all those experts who will be at their side throughout will also be on their side. Good to know.

· ‘If Winter comes, can spring be far behind? Asks Shelley in his poem, Ode to the West Wind. In Israel we change it slightly and ask; If Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. comes, can GN be far behind? And the answer is an emphatic no if Tuesday this week is anything to go by. The Company, the biggest generic drug producer in the world as we never tire of telling you, reported that it earned $1.1 billion net profit in the fourth quarter of 2010. And? And they broke their existing global record for their non-generic MS drug, Copaxone with sales of $938 million in Q4. That’s not all; in the same quarter revenue was $4.4 billion and another record hit the dust. And full year net sales? $16.1 billion with net profit $4.1 billion, two more records! But wait; in 2010 Teva became the generics leader in Europe for the first time, toppling some tough local competition from the top of the list. A peek into the future. As of December 31, Teva had applications pending approval in 30 European countries for 586 drugs together with 206 product applications awaiting final FDA approval in the States. The brand products covered by these applications had annual US sales of over $121 billion. So who benefits? Well Teva and its shareholders certainly don’t lose out exactly and that’s how it should be, but there are millions of people who rely on medications for their wellbeing and are able to buy generic drugs that are just as effective as the proprietary brands while being a lot cheaper. Now that’s really GN.

· Israel is taking cleantech really seriously. How do you measure ‘serious’? Like most things it’s measured in terms of money and a decision has been taken to invest $4bn [that’s serious] in the next few years, in the three cleantech sub-fields: water, environment protection, and renewable energy. Israel is a world leader in water technology including the desalination of sea water and sophisticated techniques for detecting and repairing water system leaks that account for tens of percent of total water usage. Now the Eilot region just north of Eilat will become the Israeli Mecca [we liked that; no Israeli has ever set foot in Mecca, you know, the real one, so we’ve made one of our own] for renewable energy with the about-to-be-established technological center dedicated to finding an alternative to oil as a transport energy source– just when we’re on the brink of discovering the black gold -. Oh well – if you’ll pardon the pun -. And it’s all in the cause of making the world a cleaner, healthier, safer place. GN indeed.

· As you fasten your seat belt ready to fly, if you’re anything like us you won’t give a thought as to how much it costs for the aircraft to move the distance from passenger gate to runway, sometimes several kilometers, under its own power. For this little trip airlines pay about $8bn a year. Israel Aircraft Industries to the rescue. They’ve produced a super tractor called Taxibot that can tow the largest airplanes in service at a fraction of the cost. It’s been tested, it’s succeeded and it’s ready to go at the bargain price of $3m per unit. $3m a bargain?! When you consider that ELAL is about to shell out $215m for four Boeing 737’s [that’s the ‘small’ one] or about $54m per unit, the cost of a Taxibot amounts to small change.

· This is our army. Shirin lives on a mountain top in the Palestinian Territory that is not accessible by car so when she went into labor prematurely the Red Crescent ambulance couldn’t get to her. An IDF force was alerted and she was brought down on a stretcher and placed in a military ambulance where she gave birth assisted by Sergeant Gilad Nesher, an army medic. IDF sources said the baby later had trouble breathing. After he was resuscitated by the soldiers, baby and mum were flown in an Air Force helicopter to an Israeli hospital where both are doing well. Shirin who doesn’t speak or understand Hebrew had this to say: “The soldiers were speaking to me and the baby in Hebrew the whole time and made sure we stayed calm.” She says she would again like to meet these good folk in IDF uniform who helped her, to thank them and wish them well. We suppose that there is a point where differences and hostilities are set aside and we react to one another as man to fellow-man. Can there be better news than that?

February 11, 2011 | 1 Comment »

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  1. A wonderful service, unless, like us, you forget where you’ve put your phone.

    …those of us who also have forgotten all their passords, etc. It’s embedded chips for us, which can double as torture devices. Won’t THAT be the advance of the century! (sarcasm)