(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Israel will have a shortage of physicians unless more doctors are trained and discrepancies between population centers and the periphery and between the Arab and the Jewish sectors is rectified, the Bank of Israel warned Tuesday.
"As the influx of immigrants - primarily from the former Soviet Union - to Israel has waned, a principal source of the increase in medical personnel in Israel has contracted and is not expected to increase in the future," the central bank said in a report.
The Bank of Israel recommended that "frameworks for training physicians be expanded and a knowledge infrastructure for assessing the current and future shortage of physicians by geographical area and specialization be created so that future policy measures may be formulated."
The report warned that if steps were not taken to increase the number of physicians in Israel, such as expanding training programs, by 2020 there will be only 2.73 physicians per 1,000 persons, a figure that experts consider to be too low.
"There are indications that in some areas of specialization there is a shortage of physicians already today, and that there is an imbalance in the distribution of physicians between the various parts of the country as well as between the Arab and the Jewish sectors," the report said.
In Israel, as in other developed countries, the number of hours worked by medical personnel has declined in recent years, the number of women employed has risen, the extent and importance of specialization has increased and the number of physicians under 65 years of age per 1,000 persons has fallen.
Since the early 1990s, the number of new licenses issued to physicians in Israel has declined constantly. In 2006 there were 3.53 physicians under the age of 65 per 1,000 persons in Israel, which is still higher than the average in the developed countries, where it was 3.06.