Depression: Let’s Talk – World Health Day 2017

According to the World Health Organization, health is not only the absence of diseases in the body, but it also includes physical, mental, and social health. Mental health is defined as a life which includes well-being, independence, capacity and mental competence between the generations, and the individual emotional and intellectual opportunities. Mental well-being is the ability of the individual to realize their abilities, to deal with normal life stress, to be productive, and take part in society. According to estimates by the WHO, depression is among the top issues worldwide affecting a person’s health and their capacity. The number of people who were affected by depression in 2015 exceeded 300 million people worldwide.

As a native minority inside of Israel, the Palestinian society is burdened by various kinds of discrimination and a harsher economic reality compared to the Jewish majority. More than half of the Palestinian families, 53.3%, are struggling below the poverty line. Research indicates an inverse relationship between the harsh economic reality and exhaustion, depression, and anxiety. Other research on mental health inside Israel shows that these conditions are more prevalent among the Palestinian population than the Jewish population, with 11.2% of Palestinians suffering from these symptoms, as opposed to 8.6% of the Jewish population.

To coincide with the World Health Day, the Galilee Society took it upon itself to shed light on the most significant data concerning the health of the Palestinian community inside of Israel.

According to the latest data produced by Rikaz about the health situation of the Arab community inside of Israel, there has been a deterioration in certain aspects of the community’s health. 16.2% of the Palestinian Arabs inside Israel suffer from chronic diseases, at least 15.3% of males and 17.1% of females.


Diabetes is the most widespread chronic disease, with 6.8% of the total population. With the percentage of illness rising even higher for ages above 21 years old: 11.5% of men and 13.9% of women. The percentage rises with the age of the population: 4.4% of the population between ages 30-44; 19.6% of the population between the ages 45-59; and over 52% of the population above 60 suffers from the disease.


Hypertension is the second most common disease among the Palestinian Arab population, with 5.9% of the total population suffering from hypertension, with 11.3% of the population above 21 years old suffering from hypertension.

High Cholesterol

The third most widespread disease is high cholesterol  with 4.8% of the population suffering from high cholesterol; around 9.2% of the population above the age of 21 years old.

Other Diseases

2.2% of the Palestinian population suffers from genetic disorders and genetic chronic illnesses, including: Thalassaemia and epilepsy; autism and intellectual disability.


One of the most common disabilities is related to sight, with 6.8% of the total Palestinian population suffering from sight related difficulties. 3.5% of the population suffer from movement difficulties, while 2.8% suffer from hearing difficulties. The percentage of people with disabilities becomes higher the lower the socioeconomic situation of the family is: 7.6% of the families in the top fifth class report the existence of disabilities, while 9% of families in the lowest fifth report disabilities.

Home Accidents

Males are more likely than females to have home accidents, at 63.6% compared to 36.4%. More than half of the individuals who had home accidents were teenagers and children under the age of 17 years old.


42.9% of all individuals are overweight, with the percentage of obese men being higher than women, at 50.3% and 35.2%.17.% of all individuals age 18 are overweight or obese, 16.7% of men and 17.6% of women. As the age goes up, the percentage of women overweight is higher compared to men, at 41.2% compared to 20%.

Nutrition and Diet

66.5% of 18-year-olds admitted consuming soft and sweetened drinks on a daily basis. 21.7% of 18-year-olds admitted to drinking energy drinks on a daily basis, with the percentage of men being higher at 31.6% compared to 11.9% of women. 67.4% of individuals above 18 years of age admitted to consuming fast food in different frequencies. 7.3% admitted to eating fast food at least once a day or more, 38.3% admitted to eating fast food once or more every two weeks.

Medical Examinations

Only 57.8% of people who suffer from chronic diseases reported going to routine medical examinations related to their illness, while 9.4% reported never having done any medical checks related to their illness.


The percentage of smokers in in the Arab Palestinian population in Israel above 15 years old exceeds 30%. 50.4% of all males smoke, while 9.2% of all females smoke. 12.6% of the population above 15 years old admit to smoking the nargilah. 18.1% of all males and 7% of all females. Half of all nargilah smokers are young people ages 18-29 at 49.2% of all nargilah smokers.

Sports and Exercise

Only 27.6% of all adults ages 18 years and older exercise and do sports; 12.6% on a daily basis, 15% only occasionally.

Medication Services

29.1% of individuals suffering from chronic diseases admit to not taking medicine at all in the last year because they were unable to buy the medicine, 28.1% of all men, 30% of all women.

Membership in a Health Fund (Kupat Holim)

30% of the individuals associated with a doctor in contract with a national health fund have family ties with the doctor, while 22.8% have friendship ties to the doctor.

Supplemental Health Insurance

Individuals who assess their health situation as excellent are more likely to have supplemental health insurance, at 53.9%, compared to individuals who assessed their health situation as bad.


The data shows a gradual increase of hospital admissions and hospitalization in parallel to age. 5.6% of individuals between ages 18-29 reported hospitalization, compared to 28.6% of individuals age 60 and over.

Wait Time for Surgeries

The percentage of individuals waiting for surgeries related to the nasal and hearing system is the highest at 32.4%, after which come stomach and digestive system surgeries at 15.1%, and eye surgeries at 12.8%. 46.3% of all individuals waiting for surgery reported a wait time at one to three months. 23.9% of individuals waiting reported a wait time of higher than three months, while those reporting a wait time of less than one month at 18.8%.

Geographic Proximity to Hospitals

35.7% of individuals 18 years and older replied that the nearest hospital to their residence is between 25-39 kilometers awats, while 1.9% reported the nearest hospital at 40 kilometers.