Doctors' Planned Indefinite Strike Can Never Be JustifiedAnother massive medical strike is expected due to the dissatisfaction of doctors regarding the government division of the pharmaceutical market between pharmacists and medical practioners.
The Korean Medical Association (KMA) has requested compensation to cover the losses of income caused by government regulations adjusting the price of pharmaceutical products to prepare for the division of the pharmaceutical market. The KMA decided to protest the government policy to implement a six-percent increase of funds raised through medical insurance. The KMA insisted that this increase would not be sufficient to cover the losses, and plans to go on an indefinite strike starting March 30. The KMA also expressed distrust regarding the variety of government medical policies including the possibility of unauthorized medical prescription by pharmacists.
It is certainly irresponsible to go on strike for an indefinite period when the activation of the government policy is due in three months. Doctors have used important issues including the enlarged categories of specialized pharmaceutical products in their arguments. However, the doctors were the central architects of the fundamental and detailed policies of the division of pharmaceutical markets. The mass strike is unacceptable, as they have had the chance to participate in and shape government policy.
Most of all, this method of expressing dissatisfaction can not be justified. Doctors have the life and health of the entire nation in their hands. Doctors can never, in any situation, refuse to examine and treat patients. The KMA must know that another strike, following the two previous incidents, would result in deeper resentment on the part of the public, regardless of the rights and wrongs of their demands. Moreover, the fact that the strike is planned for an indefinite period, raises many questions and doubts concerning public health issues.
The issue of supplementing income through medical insurance summarized the scattered demands of the doctors. The government devised this system with reference to the present situation of doctors, to cover the losses in income due to the division of the pharmaceutical market. It is impossible to resolve all the dilemmas at once, although the government is aware of the potential difficulties faced by certain doctors.
The division of the pharmaceutical market between pharmacists and medical practitioners cannot be halted or hampered. The group of doctors must withdraw their unjustifiable plan to strike. The adjustment of income payments through by medical insurance must be regulated fairly, including the transparent inspection of actual income, rather than with reference to the one-sided view of doctors.
by Kang Hong-joon