S.Korean Health Minister renews commitment to accomplish medical reform

April 18, 2024
South Korean Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong renewed his vow to accomplish medical reform

Seoul, April 18 (IANS) South Korean Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong renewed his vow to accomplish medical reform on Thursday, although a mass walkout by trainee doctors in protest of the reform has crippled public health services for about two months.

About 12,000 trainee doctors have left their worksites since February 20 in the walkout against the government’s push to hike the annual enrollment of medical students by 2,000 starting next year, Yonhap news agency reported.

“The medical reform is essential to protect the lives and health of the people, to enhance local and essential medical services, and to prepare for future demand,” Cho said at a government response meeting.

“We plan to gather reasonable opinions from different sectors and carry out the reform unwaveringly,” the Minister added.

The government said it will “unwaveringly” push ahead with the healthcare reform plans and will increase the number of physician assistant (PA) nurses to make up for the shortage of doctors amid their prolonged walkout.

But the plan is expected to face opposition from the country’s doctors’ association.

PAs, who often assist physicians in operating rooms, are expected to take over part of the duties of junior doctors in hospitals, such as conducting tests and performing partial surgeries.

Some media reports have said last week’s parliamentary election outcome may affect the medical reform by the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol because Yoon’s ruling party suffered a crushing defeat.

Since the election defeat, Yoon has vowed to accelerate the implementation of policies that are helpful to the people while filling any gaps by collecting public opinion through town halls.

He indicated, however, that he has no intention of backing down from his plans to increase admissions at medical schools.



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