Irish medical bodies stay silent on Saudi Arabia controversy

Catherine Reilly | 05 Nov 2018 | 0 Comment(s)

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Two major Irish postgraduate medical colleges with activities involving Saudi Arabia have not commented on whether they will review these relationships in light of the recent murder of journalist Mr Jamal Khashoggi or any ongoing human rights violations sanctioned by the Kingdom.

The RCPI and RCSI have strong ties with Saudi state bodies in the area of medical education.

Under an international training initiative involving the HSE and postgraduate bodies, 16 state-sponsored doctors from Saudi Arabia are training in medical specialties in the Irish heath system.

RCPI also offers the MRCPI examination in general medicine and paediatrics in Saudi Arabia.

The Medical Independent (MI) understands there are differing views among senior doctors on the RCPI maintaining a relationship with Saudi Arabia. RCPI Council member Prof Rónán Collins told MI “it is very hard personally for me to think that we should be taking money from the government of Saudi Arabia”, referencing the recent bombing of a bus carrying schoolchildren in Yemen by Saudi-led coalition forces. 

Prof Collins also acknowledged the feeling among some doctors that “you won’t change anything by not engaging” in such educational partnerships.

An RCPI spokesperson said “we constantly engage with our members on a wide range of topics and these discussions are private”. The College “is guided by the policies pursued by Government agencies” on international relations, they added.

According to the RCSI, it has a “partnership in place with King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam with regard to hosting the MRCS Part A examination three times a year”.

“Our primary responsibility is to provide a high-quality education, based on internationally recognised ethical principles in a safe and supportive environment…”

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