Belgium has a healthy number of doctors
10 May 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium has a growing number of doctors: one per 222 inhabitants, compared to one per 244 inhabitants five years ago.
Only Italy has more – one doctor per 172 residents, the Journal du Médecin reported on Tuesday.
Brussels boasts the highest concentration of doctors in Belgium, with 63 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. Flanders and Wallonia, by contrast, have 37 and 43 doctors respectively per 10,000 inhabitants.
“The high figure in Brussels is clearly linked to the huge concentration of clinics and other medical institutions in the capital,” Mark Moens, vice president of The Belgian Association of Medical Trade Unions (Absym) told Belga news agency on Tuesday.
This means shorter waiting times for treatment, he added. Long waiting times for certain treatments and operations plague many other medical systems in Europe, notably the UK.
“But having so many doctors does not necessarily signify better treatment,” Dr. Moens cautioned.
“If the number of doctors climbs to a certain level, some of them may not be able to acquire enough experience,” he explained.
Another downside of having so many doctors is that some “face difficulties surviving financially,” he added.
The Belgian government requires 40 percent of medical graduates to become general practitioners, but this quota has yet to be attained, Dr. Moens stressed.
The reason: general practitioners often earn less, making medical students seek out more lucrative fields.
Dr. Moens also suggested that a predicted new rise in the number of doctors in Belgium would also involve a rise in health care expenditures.
The medical journal report, however, stated that Belgium does not spend more on medicine than other EU member states.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian News