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Empowering Arab Israeli CF Patients and Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Treatment

Messo during treatment at a CF clinic

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation financially and emotionally supports Israel’s 650 CF patients and their families throughout the course of their disease. Currently, about one third of our patients are Arab Israelis. Research has shown that despite receiving the same clinical treatments and home care recommendations, Arab Israeli CF patients are generally characterized by poorer medical outcomes when compared with the Jewish population.

Furthermore, research conducted by the CFFI’s social workers at all six clinics has shown that though the needs of both populations are the same, there are cultural differences that have an effect on treatment efficacy. Most Arab Israeli patients avoid home visits by health professionals due to trust issues. In addition, cultural differences, as well as language barriers, lead to a lack of understanding of medical information which results in lack of adherence to medical treatment. Lung function tests have shown that Arab Israeli CF patients hardly perform lung drainage physiotherapy at home. Since lung drainage is one of the most essential life-saving treatments for CF patients, this behavior could result in lower life expectancy, higher rates of hospitalization and poor quality of life.

We assert that lack of awareness of Cystic Fibrosis in general amongst the Arab Israeli population, as well as cultural & linguistic barriers, are the most significant factors to the alarming gap in test results, adherence to medical treatment and life expectancy between the Arab Israeli and the Jewish populations in Israel. Given their socioeconomic status, many Arab Israeli families with sick family members find in difficult to afford life saving treatments that are not covered by the State or HMOs. This leads to additional gaps in accessibility to quality health care between the Arab Israeli and Jewish populations in Israel.

The goals of this project are to increase awareness amongst the Arab Israeli population to CF in general, offer CF patients and their families medical guidance in a way that overcomes social, cultural and linguistic barriers and offer Arab Israeli CF patients psycho-social and financial support in order to improve their heath and decrease the gaps between the Jewish and Arab Israeli populations.  We aim to increase home care by 20% and social worker visits by 15%, perform at least 3,000 individual physiotherapy sessions for some 50 children from the Arab Israeli population and provide Arab Israeli families with written materials in Arabic to better guide them in providing at-home care for sick family members. The duration of this program shall be one year. Following the one year period, the program shall be reviewed and if deemed effected shall continue in following years.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Israel was founded in order to help meet the needs of allCF patients living in Israel. Currently, a third of our target population has language difficulties that prevent them from receiving proper care. This program aims to face this challenge and enable Arab Israeli patients and their families to better understand this disease and receive the most advanced medical treatment possible. In order to do so, we plan to add Arabic speaking social workers, physiotherapists and a pharmacist to our staffs at the CFFI’s six CF clinics. It is important to note that due to intermarriage customs amongst the Arab Israeli population, one of our main goals it to increase awareness to genetic testing, which is offered by the State, in order to lower the prevalence of CF.

Please press the following the link and donate to this important cause.

You can also contact us directly at: cf@cff.org.il

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