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Training the Middle East’s Future Health-Care Professionals

The Middle East’s public-health challenges today are enormous, and it has too few clinicians to address them. As the region continues to grow, its stability and prosperity will depend on countries' ability to revamp health-care education to attract more students from the region and foster innovation.

BOSTON – The Middle East’s public-health challenges are enormous, especially when one accounts for the region’s transient population of refugees and guest workers. The refugee population alone now numbers in the millions, and is straining health-care systems in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey nearly to the breaking point.

Affluent Gulf Cooperation Council countries would be mistaken to assume that they are exempt from their neighbors’ public-health problems. While GCC countries have made major improvements in hygiene and maternal and child health, they form the global epicenter of chronic non-communicable diseases – such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and, increasingly, cancer – that result from lifestyle and diet.

Worse still, GCC countries’ national health systems have a shortage of local clinicians and trained professionals working in local public-health services. This results in high turnover owing to overwork, and an increased need for foreign health-care workers to fill sorely needed positions.

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