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Volume 5, Pages 71-92
Review Article

Health Policy for Persons with Intellectual Disability: Experiences from Israel

1Schulich School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, Canada
2Faculty of Arts, Department of Political Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3Clalit Health Services and Division of Community Health, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
4National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem and Zusman Child Development Center, Division of Pediatrics and Community Health, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Received 30 November 2004; Revised 11 January 2005; Accepted 12 January 2005

Copyright © 2005 Ilana Halperin et al.


Intellectual disability (ID) is a life-long disability characterized by impaired cognitive and adaptive skills. Over the past few decades, a shift has occurred in the conceptualization and treatment of people with ID and research in health policy and health-care delivery has become increasingly global with a notable disparity between the developed and developing world. This review presents a literature overview of global health policy for ID with the intent to focus specifically on the policy and treatment within Israel. The methodology involved sites visits to care centers, discussions with stakeholders in health policy, and a literature review. We believe that Israel is in a unique position between a developed and developing culture. In particular, the distinct problems faced by the Arab and Bedouin community in terms of ID must be formally accounted for in Israel's future policies. Research from the developing world would be instructive to this end. The global approach in this presentation led to certain policy recommendations that take into account the uniqueness of Israel's position from a social, economic, religious, and demographic perspective. It is the hope that this paper will lead to an increased awareness of the challenges faced by persons with ID and their providers in all sectors of Israeli society and that the necessary policy recommendations will ultimately be adopted.