Doctors Cross The LineThe government-initiated medical reform plan is approaching a vicious turn, with the nation’s medical facilities at a virtual standstill.
Clinics have closed their doors to those seeking medical help, including vulnerable infants and the elderly. Doctors’ protests don’t seem to correspond with their earlier proclamation, ‘For the Citizen’s Health.’ The president of the Korean Medical Association (KMA) suggested, “Patients can use emergency medical agencies that the government arranges.” What is worse, when patients visit a general hospital in Seoul, they are stunned and frustrated after reading the single note saying, ‘Please stand by while we are closed.’ The strike has already claimed a baby and an elderly citizen. Another has fallen unconscious due to the lack of medical facilities.
The medical sector insists that the distorted medical reforms are hurting people’s health all over the country. Doctors’ concern with the move to allow only pharmacists to dispense medicine is understandable. However, the medical sector is going beyond concern, severely stating, “If the amendment of the clause which creates two different interpretations is not enforced, it will mar people’s health. We want to rid the system of any confusion, why is everyone angry with us?”
Kang Chan-gu, policy manager for the Coalition of Health, cited, “They are a professional sector of soceity whom we respect. We thought that there must be some real problems causing the doctors to react as they did. The public didn‘t really understand the details of the medical reform.” He underscored, “But, there is a limit. If doctors cross the line and prolong the strike, we will be unable to support them.”
The government released countermeasures on June 18 addressing the promise of financial aid for clinics and the revision of pharmacy-related regulations.
Kwon Hyok-ju, professor of Sungkyunkwan University, warned, “Mass medical strikes will cause doctors to lose the trust of the people. The medical sector should seek for new ways to form policies with the government instead of stubbornly insisting that there is only one possibility for the future of medical reform.
by Shin Sung-sik