In the 1980s, the Palestinian medical community realised the future of Palestine’s medical services were in trouble. They decided that creating a medical school in Palestine was important. This school would have undergraduate medical study and provide qualified doctors further training to do their specialism.
At that time, Palestinians received their medical education abroad. This was problematic, as training abroad:
- was expensive with a limited number of opportunities
- lead to a brain drain (not returning to work and live in Palestine)
This meant the number and range of medical services available to the public were limited. Meaning for many patients they had to be referred for treatment abroad.
Palestinian medical schools
Al Quds University in Jerusalem was chosen for the first medical faculty, as Jerusalem is a central location and symbolically significant to the Palestinian state. In 1994, the school opened with an intake of 36 students.
To make studying more accessible to students outside of Jerusalem, Nablus (An Najah University) and Gaza (Al Azhar University) had branches for students studying in the first pre-medical phase. To finish the remaining two phases the students transferred to the main campus in Jerusalem.
In 2006, An Najah was recognised as a separate medical school by the Ministry of Higher Education. In the same year, the Islamic University of Gaza opened their own Faculty of Medicine. There are now 4 independent medical schools.
To aid the growth of these medical schools, FQMS supported PhD students in different branches of Medical Sciences. These students became the backbone of the medical schools, teaching their students what they learnt.