JERUSALEM (JTA) — The number of doctors per capita in Israel is dropping to serious levels, according to a Health Ministry report.
At the end of last year there were 3.5 doctors under the age of 65 per 1,000 people in Israel, compared with 3.7 per 1,000 at the end of 2000, according to the report.
Israel has 33,051 licensed physicians, 25,542 under the age of 65. In 2008, 606 new licenses to practice medicine were issued, compared to 898 in 2000, according to the report.
Fewer doctors are moving to Israel from the Diaspora, according to the report, which pointed out that the number of licenses issued to doctors of Eastern European origin has dipped to very low levels.
Over the past five years, about half the new doctors were graduates of Israeli medical schools, compared with one-third in 2000, also reflecting the decline in the number of doctors making aliyah.
At the end of 2008, some 43 percent of new physicians were women, compared with 49 percent in 2006 and 2007. Currently, 40 percent of doctors in Israel are women.
Israel has four medical schools; plans to create a fifth have been delayed, according to reports. More than 1,000 Israelis reportedly are studying medicine at schools abroad.