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Korea to Export its Medical Technology to Saudi Arabia

Korea’s medical information technology and system will be exported to Saudi Arabia’s public health centers and hospitals.

In addition, large-scale training programs that aim to educate doctors from Saudi Arabia with Korea’s medical techniques will begin. This is meaningful, as it has only been half a century since Korea received medical technology transfers from other countries.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) announced that Minister Young Chin and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdulla Al Rabiah signed an agreed record on cooperation between the two countries in the field of health and medicine. The two countries will also sign an executive agreement within two months of the signing of the record.

According to the agreed record, the Saudi Arabian government will entrust all projects, including those related to health information exchange, blood banks, telemedicine and the point-of-care (POC) system, and except for those already underway, to the Korean government.

Saudi Arabia has about 3,000 public health centers and 240 public hospitals that are categorized into three districts. Korea will also establish a hospital information system (HIS) for one district. The HIS is an essential electronic system in providing medical service that manages prescriptions, imagery information and medical records.

For implementation of the project, Korea and Saudi Arabia will make a joint investment to establish a joint venture in Saudi Arabia. For the HIS development project, Samsung SDS, SK Telecom-Seoul National University Bundang Hospital consortium and Hyundai Information Technology have submitted proposals to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health.

From March, medical professionals from Saudi Arabia will also visit Korea to receive training.

Korean medical institutions will provide 2-year fellowship programs for specialists and short-term trainings that last anywhere from a month to a year for experienced doctors. Samsung Medical Center, Seoul National University, the Yonsei University Health System, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital and the Asan Medical Center plan to participate in the training project.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health will sponsor monthly costs of USD 3,000 (excluding accommodations, transportation and food expenses) per person, and the Korean government aims to attract 100 doctors a year on average.

The Medical System Twinning Project, which aims to transfer Korea’s medical technology and system to Saudi Arabia’s hospitals, also saw practical results. Samsung Medical Center and the King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) signed an agreement to build a brain tissue bank as the first phase. The brain tissue bank is a core facility for studying brain tumors and dementia, as it stores the brain tissue of patients from operations.

The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade forecast that the participation of Korean companies in Saudi Arabia’s medical projects will bring about a production inducement effect of KRW 1.7676 trillion and added values of KRW 962.3 billion and create 10,000 new jobs. The effects of education programs were also forecast to reach KRW 152.6 billion and KRW 69.3 billion in terms of production and added values, respectively.

In other words, the medical IT transfer project and training programs will have the same effect as selling 34,897 and 2,513 Sonatas each, or attracting 556,589 and 40,089 foreign visitors, respectively.

In particular, it is significant that the training programs show the advancement of Korea’s medical technology in just half a century since the Minnesota Project, in which 226 Korean medical professionals visited the United States from 1955 to 1961 to learn medical technologies.

Minister Chin noted that he expects a continuous partnership between Korea and Saudi Arabia through the sharing of Korea’s world-class medical technology, adding that the Ministry will foster the health and medical industry as a growth engine for the next 50 years.

An MOHW official noted that cooperation with Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates is also being promoted, adding that he expects a Korean medical boom in the Middle East.

Source Text

Source: Yonhap News (Sep. 23, 2013)

** This article was translated from the Korean.

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