Saudi Arabiaâ€™s Ministry of Health has signed a contract for the recruitment of 2,000 Egyptians as part of its plan to train 20 per cent of all doctors in the GCC states as specialists in family medicine over the next 10 years.Dr Towfiq Khoja, deputy director general of the Executive Board of the Council of Health Ministers for GCC states, said these doctors, along with other physicians in the Kingdom, would be put through a training course in family and community medicine.
This was part of the governmentâ€™s initiative to overcome an acute shortage of family doctors in the Kingdom, Khoja was quotede as saying in The Arab News.
The move assumes significance as 2008 has been designated â€œThe Year of Primary Health Care.â€
At the end of the training course, he told Radio Riyadh that the physicians would be awarded a diploma after passing the boardâ€™s qualifying exam.
The diploma course is in addition to two other similar courses that the executive board is developing in collaboration with specialists from the UK.
The three diploma courses will prepare MOH and other doctors from the public and private sectors for a career in family and community medicine.
Dr Nabil Yassin Qureshi, a senior official from the department of preventive health care, said currently the Kingdom had 50,000 physicians serving a population of 26 million.
â€œIn the primary health care sector alone, there are 10,000 physicians working in the government, public and private sectors. These are potential family physicians,â€ he said.
Qureshi said changes in peopleâ€™s life styles were responsible for the incidence of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems.
The Kingdom, according to Khoja, has so far invested more than SR7 billion in the development of infrastructure for primary health care. The plan calls for the establishment of over 2,000 health centers all over the Kingdom in three years.
Family medicine has been recognised as a specialised discipline and those pursuing advanced studies in this field will be given higher salaries, Khoja noted.
According to Khoja, there was a great demand for family doctors in Western countries, which were paying good salaries to attract specialists in community and family medicine.