SEOUL, KOREA — The Ministry of Health and Welfare informed that the “Executive Program between the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Rep. of Korea and the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed an agreement which involved Healthcare and Medical Science on February 8. This proved to be a successful visit to Saudi Arabia.
The Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah) and Healthcare and Medical Policy Director of the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Rep. of Korea (Goh Kyung-Seok) signed the agreement.
According to an official from Ministry of Health and Welfare, this Executive Program had been promoted since 2009 as a part of the implementation plan of the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of Rep. of Korea and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (4 Jul. 74)
The Program was signed at the request of the Saudi Government, taking the Korean Presidential visitation as an opportunity.
Officials explain that there hasn’t been active cooperation in the field of healthcare and medicine between the two nations compared with the economic cooperation. Although Saudi Arabia is a central country in the Middle East, this Executive Program holds great significance as it lays the foundation for facilitation of cooperation in the field of healthcare and medical science between Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Like other Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia has difficulty in providing quality medical service to its people due to a lack of human resources and skills, though it has numerous medical institutions.
There are four main medical cities that include 406 hospitals, 28 medical institutions, 55,932 beds, and 54,306 doctors.
In Saudi Arabia, the number of people who travel overseas for the purpose of medical tourism is around 200 thousand (mainly to US, UK, and France). The main causes of death is Cardiovascular disease (35%), injuries (16%), other chronic disease (16%), and cancer (11%). Saudi Arabia ranks third in terms of obesity which is 35.6% of the entire population and diabetes which is 17% in the world.
Saudi Arabia expressed its intention to carry out medical expert training and education, with the transfer of high-tech medical devices, technological skills, cooperation in the pharmaceutical area, and joint R&D, based upon the Executive Program that it signed with Korea.
Prior to the signing of the Program, Goh Kyung-Seok, Healthcare and Medical Policy Director Goh Kyung-Seok explained to the Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a consultation meeting.
Recently Korean medicine is being highly recognized in the Middle Eastern area. As a result, cooperation in the area of healthcare and medical service with Middle Eastern countries is being expanded including MOU and the contract on patient transfer etc.
With Korea’s experiences and know-how, it has become a world-class medical service country in a short period of time. Korea will provide its full support for the development of the healthcare and medical science in Saudi Arabia.
He emphasized his hope that the Korean medical institutions will be given a chance to participate in creation and modernization of the large scale medical city, which is a national project of the Saudi Government and Korea’s high quality medical devices and medicines will be introduced into the Saudi market.
Saudi Arabia is executing the establishment of 162 medical facilities including 86 newly built hospitals with the budget of USD 10 billion at the governmental level.
So far there have been 42 institutions with infrastructure renovations, 86 newly built institutions, 20 diabetes-specialized institutions, 7 dental clinics and 7 local blood banks and labs established.
In response to Goh’s comment, Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister also said that he expects tangible results to be achieved by expanding cooperation in the field of healthcare and medicine between the two nations based upon excellent medical facilities and skills. In fact, over the past thirty years, many Koreans have come to Saudi Arabia to help the nation grow as it is today.
He added that since Saudi patients are going to foreign countries for organ transplants, cancer treatments, organ transplant and chronic disease care such as diabetes in which Korea is known to excel is necessary.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that at the celebration of the Janadria Festive, the biggest cultural festival in Saudi Arabia, which was being held with Korea invited as a major guest country in celebration of 50th anniversary announced the official relationship between Korea and Saudi Arabia. Korea carried out promotional activities to make Korean Medicine known to more Saudi people such as distribution of Korean medical service promotion brochures and showing of the Korean medical service promotion video, etc.