Safed's Ziv Medical Center welcomed on Thursday the announcement by the Council for Higher Education that Bar-Ilan University will run the country's fifth university-affiliated medical school in the Galilee city. The cabinet decision in early 2009 to set up another medical school and to locate it in Safed - where another university would be likely to eventually follow - was aimed at reducing the growing shortage of physicians and promoting economic and social development in the region. Ziv director-general Dr. Oscar Embon said he hoped the future medical school would shrink the gap in medical services between those in the North and the center of the country. He added that he expected the first class would start in temporary facilities at the hospital in October 2010. The establishment of the medical school, he added, will be a significant step that will positively influence aspects of life in the region. "It will make it possible for northern hospitals to turn into a regional network of university institutions. Even today, the four hospitals in the area teach clinical work to students at the Technion's Rappaport Medical School in Haifa, but the new institution will allow the acceptance of more students and upgrade the hospitals' infrastructure." Ziv is ready for it and has readied temporary accommodations for the school on its own hospital campus, Embon said. The new school could attract many researchers, doctors and scientists to the Galilee and improve the infrastructure. Embon thanked Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Silvan Shalom for persuading the Council for Higher Education to make its decision. So far, a budget of NIS 1 million has been allocated to prepare a plan for the area where the medical school, a research center, a residential neighborhood and a commercial center will be built, Embon said. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, the Technion and Ben-Gurion University are the four universities that have their own medical schools.