Don’t globalize Oriental medicineThe columnist who wrote the story headlined “Time to Think Globally” in the Jan. 16 edition of the JoongAng Ilbo argued that Korean Oriental medicine doctors and students have been against opening the medical market because the domestic market is saturated.
At free trade negotiations between the United States and South Korea, getting mutual permission for Oriental medicine doctors from both countries to come into both markets has become an issue.
Citing statistics related to the Oriental medical profession, the columnist maintained if both countries agree to recognize each other’s licenses, the Korean Oriental medicine doctors could benefit.
But I think the columnist did not understand the current situation well and the statistics quoted were not accurate, which can mislead readers.
Mutual recognition should be based on equivalent qualifications. In the United States, however, there is no educational system to train Oriental medicine doctors, so there cannot be Oriental medicine doctors. Only acupuncturists are there. Korean Oriental medicine doctors are in the regular medical profession and have the same right to diagnose patients as medical specialists, military medical officers and public health doctors. On the contrary, U.S. acupuncturists are irregular medical staff, who do not have the right to diagnose patients. American acupuncturists study for three years, which is three years shorter than Korean Oriental medicine curriculum. In Korea, entering Oriental medicine school is highly competitive, while the admission is not considered competitive in the United States.
Moreover, medical service should consider people’s health the most. A discreet mutual recognition of qualifications can bring less-qualified, less-trained doctors into the domestic market. The result can threaten the public health, raise medical costs and polarize between the rich and the poor over the quality of medical service.
To correct the wrong statistics used in the column I cited here; it said that Western doctors abolished the certificate for Oriental medicine doctors in 1961, but that is not true. According to the column, “in Korea, there are 12 Oriental medicine schools and 9,000 Oriental medical hospitals,” but there are 11 Oriental medical schools in Korea and 10,346 hospitals, including Oriental medical clinics and general hospitals, as of last September.
U.S. states each have different requirements, in addition to the national rules. The Korean government has to negotiate with each state to recognize the mutual recognition of qualifications. That can not be realistic, and it is not fair to say that medical specialists in Korea become medical technicians in the United States. To globalize Korea is the one; to globalize the Oriental medical service system is another. With those reasons, Korean Oriental medicine doctors oppose the mutual recognition of the qualifications.
Korean Oriental medicine doctors try to improve the quality of the Korean traditional medicine and develop the market so people can take medicine without worrying about its quality and safety. They have proved the safety and effectiveness of traditional medicine through diverse research. The Association of Korean Oriental Medicine will struggle to develop and globalize Oriental medicine.
Choi Jeong-Kuk, the spokesman of the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine
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