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Israel’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: tailoring measures for vulnerable cultural minority populations

Waitzberg R, Davidovitch N, Leibner G, Penn N, Brammli-Greenberg S
International Journal for Equity in Health(2020) 19:71
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Every country has vulnerable populations that require special attention from policymakers in their response to a pandemic. This is because those populations may have specific characteristics, culture and behaviours that can accelerate the spread of the virus, and they usually have less access to healthcare, particularly in times of crisis. In order to carry out a comprehensive national intervention plan, policy makers should be sensitive to the needs and lifestyles of these groups, while taking into account structural and cultural gaps. In the context of Israel, the two most prominent and well-defined minority groups are the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and parts of the Arab population. The government was slow to recognize the unique position of these two groups, public pressure eventually led to a response that was tailored to the ultra-Orthodox community and during the month of Ramadan a similar response has been implemented among the Arab community.

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