Home News Shortage of doctors and new drugs looming

Shortage of doctors and new drugs looming

Published on 04/03/2005

4 March 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium could be hit by a shortage of doctors and new medicines in the near future, it was reported on Friday.

The green party Ecolo argued that if action is not taken soon, the number of residents on each doctor’s book would increase by 50 percent by 2021.

Ecolo MP Muriel Gerkens, whose predictions were based on extrapolating the 2001 and 2003 figures for doctors and patients, warned that several areas of Belgium could be left with a serious shortage of doctors.

The number of Brussels residents per doctor could rise from 956 in 2001 to 1,550 by 2021, claimed Gerkens.

In Flanders, each doctor could have 1,506 potential patients, compared to 1,088, and in Wallonia, 1,349 compared to 872.

Charleroi would be the Walloon town worst affected with 2,046 residents per doctor.

Gerkens called for the scrapping of limitations on the number of doctors that are allowed to enter the profession.

In the daily newspaper L’Echo concerns were also raised about the future for new medicine development in Belgium.

The paper said lengthy procedures were making life difficult for the drug industry and its employees.

In order to carry out a clinical trial, researchers must apply for permission from the Medicines Board of the Public Health department.

Although the board is supposed to give its answer within 15 to 28 days, according to a new law passed last May, the deadline is rarely respected.

Luc Tritsmans, manager of the Belgian association for new medicines, said those delays made it difficult for Belgian researchers to compete with competition from abroad.

Many centres could make redundancies or close as a result, he warned.

Health Minister Rudy Demotte said measures to tackle the problem are being implemented, such as the recruitment of additional staff at the Medicines Board.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news