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Welcome Medical Reform Pact

Nov 12,2000
The tripartite panel of doctors, pharmacists and the government agreed on 12 key points late Friday, finally indicating that a solution to the ongoing conflict over medical reform is close. Although confirmation from the doctors'' and pharmacists'' associations is required, the general public, who have endured repeated doctors'' strikes since mid-June, can see a ray of hope at last. The public is not interested in the fine details of disputes between interested parties. They are only interested in the quality of medical services and the fees they are expected to pay.

The tentative agreement is good news. The tripartite panel has decided to reflect several points in a revision of the Pharmacists'' Act: Pharmacists are to be banned from writing prescriptions except in a few cases; local doctors'' associations are to provide a list of prescription drugs to local pharmacists'' associations, and citizens will be rewarded if they report the infringement of medical laws. Of course there are still a couple of potential problems: The financial burden on the government will increase as it will be required to pay 50 percent of local insurance premiums and there is also the possibility that some doctors will not agree to the compromise. However, we expect that the parties will be able to resolve these matters intelligently.

What''s really important is what will happen next. Above all, doctors should do their best to restore their tarnished reputation. In the eyes of the general public, the medical strikes were merely a fight over doctors'' incomes. Doctors should take a lesson from this and assume a new attitude in serving the general public. They must sit face to face with the government and pharmacists to draw up a new framework for medical services geared toward public health. The government, for its part, should realize that it won''t do to inflict pain on citizens or lose their confidence even if it is trying to implement a much-needed reform. No reform can be successful without sufficient preparation, a public consensus and the participation of the concerned sector of society.

The three parties must reform the medical system in such a way that it puts the public first.



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