Government vows reforms after outbreak of hepatitis C

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Government vows reforms after outbreak of hepatitis C


The Ministry of Health and Welfare pledged Sunday to revamp the national training system for licensed doctors, claiming that the recent outbreak of hepatitis C at a clinic in southwestern Seoul seemed to have been related to a loophole in the system. HVC is a blood-borne virus that can infect the liver and cause cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and other conditions.

The new measures are follow-up steps for improving the medical personnel license reporting system, which was established in March 2012 and requires health care providers to receive eight hours of vocational training annually and report to authorities every three years about those classes.

The ministry said through a statement that it will push to reduce the interval from every three years to every year, and make it mandatory for everyone to receive a course on medical ethics. Inspection on proxy attendance will also be reinforced.

Two organizations tasked with overseeing the new measures and devising improvements will be established under the ministry.

In a separate statement on Sunday, the ministry said that 76 people who were treated at the Dana Clinic in Sinjeong-dong, Yangcheon District, Seoul, tested positive for hepatitis C, or HVC, as of Saturday. That includes patients who were infected in the past; 53 people are currently infected.

Authorities are in the process of checking 2,269 patients who visited the clinic since it opened in May 2008. So far, 779 people, or 34.3 percent, have been checked. Government investigators said the clinic seems to have used the same needle more than once and that all patients infected had received intravenous injections at the clinic.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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