Israel starts 2024 in a stage of mourning, following October 7th Massacre in the Israeli communities along the Gaza strip border and at the Nova Music Festival, where more than 1,300 civilians have been murdered and 240 people have been kidnapped into Gaza by the Hamas organization.
Today, 136 civilians who have been kidnapped are still being held in Gaza by Hamas. Women, children, men and elderly people and the Israeli Defense forces are fighting in Gaza against Hamas terror infrastructures.
The war has taken a major emotional toll in Israel since countless Israelis experienced the atrocities directly or have been exposed to the tragedies by friends, family and the overwhelming news flow. The survivors, their families and rescuers who evacuated the bodies from the Kibbutzim burnt homes and witnessed the horrors and the families of those who has been called to serve and are now fighting in Gaza, and the general population that absorbed mentally the images and sounds of the war via social media and nearly 24/7 news coverage.
The symptoms are diverse and include PTSD, occurring when their life has been on stake, or after suffering severe injuries, stress, depression, anxiety and fear following the deadliest terror attack Israel has ever known since it was established 75 years ago. As a result, the number of Israelis needing medications to address those symptoms has grown dramatically. In addition, nearly 1,600 Israel soldiers who took part at battlefield in Gaza came back bruised not only physically but also mentally and there is a sincere concern that they will encounter severe difficulties coming back to their normal life, both to their work and families.
All those overwhelming events lead to the burnout of the medical staff members at the Israeli Hospitals and clinics that are taking an active part in the treatment of thousands of Israelis, both civilians and soldiers and need to deal with the major flow of patients in an increasing pace never seen before in Israel. To fill this vacuum Israeli innovation enters offering a variety of health technologies such as wearables, that monitor pulse and blood pressure, and applications that manages supply of medications as well as other digital health remote care platforms aiming to reduce the burden on the medical institutions and address the high demand for those services among Israelis.
When looking at the Israeli hospitals as well as private clinics, one immediately notices the diversity of its workforce that reflects the diversity of Israeli society: Jews, Arabs, Muslims and Christians working together as doctors, nurses and surgeons, despite the cultural differences and rising tension across Israel, engaged in the sacred mission of saving lives and providing the best treatment possible.
All are taking care of the Israeli hostages as well, that has been released after spent more than 50 days in Hamas’s captivity and immediately has been brought to a medical checkup upon their arrival to Israel and reunited with their families. A team of psychologists were waiting in advance at the hospitals, escorting the hostages and their families to ease as much as possible their ability to cope with the trauma and memories from captivity, providing consultancy regarding the best ways to handle with this new reality and improve the communication to better understand the patients, their distress and emotional needs as part of a long and complex process of rehabilitation.
For the people in the region, technology and mental health are at extreme proving grounds. How they will transform the future of care will result from these turbulent, terrible times will impact global health and clinical excellence.