A new NIS 2.5 million program to encourage medical students and interns to work in the periphery will go into effect this fall.The benefits, initiated by the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and the Jewish Agency, will go to medical students in their clinical years of study and interns after medical school who work in hospitals. They will receive scholarships of NIS 10,000 each in addition to other existing incentives.The ministry said it would continue to build a basket of benefits for later stages for young doctors, including residency to study a specialty and as specialists. Over the next five years, the joint program will increase by 75 the number of young physicians at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba – a dramatic increment – and also raise the attractiveness and quality of the hospital, the ministry said.There is a shortage of 120 physicians in the South compared to the Center of the country. As tens of thousands of soldiers and their families will move to the South as IDF training centers are shifted from the Center, an additional 165 more doctors will be needed by 2020.Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Silvan Shalom said that even though Beersheba and environs have leading academic institutions, only 15 medical interns remain there for hospital residency.“It’s a shame,” he said. “Moving into the Negev requires the large medical institutions to prepare themselves.”If a new hospital that has been endorsed by the ministry is built in the area, it would take until 2018 to open, he said. He concluded that the new medical faculty in Safed that was pushed by the ministry has already brought about advancement, improved health services and higher real estate values in the Galilee.