RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and South Korea will sign a framework accord in the health sector which will explore potential to build strategic partnerships in health care, research and medical training.
Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih will hold talks with his Korean counterpart Chung Chin-youb before endorsing the joint program here on Sunday.
“The framework of cooperation will be a milestone for wider cooperation in the health domain,” said Bok-hyun Nam, health attaché at the Korean Embassy, while spelling out the salient features of this joint initiative.
He said that “the focus of the framework will be on diverse areas including joint research, training of Saudi paramedical personnel, health insurance and hospital operation systems.”
This joint initiative, he said, comes in line with the Korean government’s new plan to encourage health care cooperation and to attract medical tourists for treatment in Korea.
The Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare’s plan aspires to attract about 300,000 foreign patients, including Saudis, to that country by increasing transparency in Korea’s medical services industry and reinvigorating the medical market for foreign patients.
He said that “Korea currently witnesses an increasing trend of patients’ visits from the Middle East every year … In 2014, Korea received around 5,500 patients from Middle East countries including 2,600 from the UAE and 1,200 from the Kingdom.”
To promote health tourism from Middle East countries, the Korean government has established the institutional cooperation system. “Korea had a patient referral agreement with the government of the UAE and is currently discussing with Saudi authorities the possibility of a similar agreement,” he added.
Referring to the ongoing visit of Korean Health Minister Chin-youb to Saudi Arabia, Nam said that the visit follows the success of the “Korea-Saudi Health Care Road Show” organized in Riyadh last month. He said that the ministerial meeting in Riyadh will further help to promote cooperation in several other areas in the health care sector.
He noted that the two countries are currently discussing several projects including an evaluation of health and medical technology, strengthening research and development management capabilities, a proposal for technology transfer, a proposal for quality assessment, development of the clinical KPI System (health insurance review and assessment service) and cooperation between Korea and Prince Sultan Heart Center.
Minister Chin-youb, who visited the King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyahd on Saturday, will have a breakfast meeting with members of the Saudi-Korean Business Council at the Council of Saudi Chambers on Sunday.
The Korean minister will also visit King Fahd Medical City, a premier medical facility in the Saudi capital before heading for ministerial talks.

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