Wisdom Needed for Quick Resolution of Medical Strike

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Wisdom Needed for Quick Resolution of Medical Strike

In the throes of the medical doctors' strike, the Korean public is nervous. Even healthy people are concerned about the prospects of a sudden illness assaulting themselves or their family members. Do we need to describe the anxiety and torment of families with members suffering cancer or a serious illness?

The medical vacuum is grave in the aftermath of the collective closure of doctors' surgeries and walkouts by specialists and residents of general hospitals in some areas. In university hospitals clinical professors are struggling to fill the young doctors' places. This weekend is predicted to be the height of the crisis. Due to the direct and indirect influence of collective walkouts, accidents have already occurred, including the suicide of a brain tumor patient and the death of a lithiasis patient. In addition, examinations of outpatients and operations in all hospitals are building up. The general public's rights to health care are being infringed upon by doctors' assertion of their rights - with relatively insignificant justification.

It cannot continue this way. Undue deaths and suffering must be averted. We must not look on idly at the situation, for it could completely strip patients' of confidence in their doctors.

Elders in the medical profession must come forward immediately to mediate. They should open a channel of dialogue and dispel the anxiety of the general public. Be they research professors or clinical professors, respected elders should exhibit their wisdom in resolving the crisis. In particular, we have high hopes in the elders who have dedicated their lives to the basic medical research - anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology - and educating medical students in the shadows, instead of treating patients on the front lines. These respected professors should calm the chaos. They must urge their students to return to their positions, while demanding of the government what is needed.

Choi Sun-jung, newly appointed health and welfare minister, must respond quickly. Time is running out. While adhering to fundamental principles, he must hurry to establish a flexible dialogue to solve the problems. He must make haste to meet elder professors and listen to their advice to attempt to prepare a framework for the resolution of the long medical conflict. He should not lose too much time pondering the issue. The general public must not become sacrificial lambs. For a positive conclusion, it is necessary to allow the young doctors a glimpse of hope. Certain justification and grounds must be given to them to end their collective strikeout.

Elders in the medical profession and the government should put finding a solution to the medical crisis on the top of the agenda and take action accordingly. A possible solution a blueprint for the future situation that includes a public consensus on the disputed issues - the desirable direction of health care and adequate levels of medical fees and doctors' incomes. In particular, they should ensure that young doctors do not lose faith in their career. On their part, doctors must stop being stubborn and listen to the advice of their elders. Now is the time when mediation, persuasion, and the humility required to step back are urgently called for.


by Huh Eui-do

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