UPDATE : 2020.10.5 Mon 09:33
상단여백
HOME Social & Issue Issue
Why Are Doctors on Strike?the point of discussion left by the doctors' strike
  • By Kim Seong-Ju, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2020.09.20 23:08
  • 호수 280
  • 댓글 0

Why Are Doctors on Strike?

: the point of discussion left by the doctors' strike

The Korean Medical Association launched its first general strike on August 14, 2020. The public’s attention is focused on the government's four major medical policies which are opposed by the medical community. It is this opposition which has caused the doctors to go on an indefinite strike. The doctors' strike caused confusion among hospitals and patients who faced immediate problems in their medical care. Why did doctors take off their scrubs and go on strike even though they were accused of putting the health of the public in jeopardy in the midst of a health crisis?

1 The doctors of Ajou University Hospital are holding pickets and holding silent demonstrations (source of photograph: August, 28th Newsis).

The two major points of opposition against the four major medical policies that the Medical Association called for the withdrawal of are "expanding the quota of medical schools and establishing the National College of Public Health and Medical Sciences". The Ministry of Health and Welfare unilaterally insisted on a plan to increase the current quota of 3,058 students by up to 400 more students starting in 2022, and to maintain the quota for 10 years. Among the new students added by the quota, 3,000 will be selected as special candidates for the local doctor system and assigned to work in certain regions for 10 years. However, the association is skeptical of the government's position, saying an increase in the number of doctors will not improve the quality of medical care, especially when there is a lack of infrastructure and poor medical environments. In addition, when the additional doctors do their mandatory military service, they are not guaranteed to continue working in underserviced, specialized medical fields, and may instead move on to other regions and open a hospital in a different medical field.

Opposition was similarly met against the establishment of a National College of Public Health and Medical Sciences. The government insisted that it would promote a kind of ‘mandatory military academy’ that fosters essential field-centered skills needed by the nation by utilizing the closed quota of medical schools at the Seonam University university. However, the medical association said that strengthening the competitiveness of medical institutions, giving better treatment, and a full-scale reform of essential medical care should come first.

The government also proposed a pilot project which allows oriental herbal medicine to be covered by health insurance if prescribed for facial nerve paralysis, menstrual pain, and cerebrovascular disease. This pilot project will start in October. In order to ease the public's burden for the treatment of oriental medicine, the government intends to carry out pilot projects for oriental medical clinics that meet certain criteria, including the use of standard herbal medicine, the disclosure of preparation details, and the establishment of an herbal medicine health coverage system. However, the Korean Medical Association criticized the safety and effectiveness of the herbal medicine must take precedence over the establishment of the pilot project.

The government also wants to focus on 'fostering telemedicine'. In May, the government announced plans to establish a virtual care system to prevent a second wave of COVID-19. However, the medical association was concerned that virtual care would lead to telemedicine. Telemedicine would cause the difference in physical accessibility between primary medical institutions and large hospitals to be eliminated, resulting in unequal access to medical care. Consequently, the quality of medical care could vary greatly depending on the patient's ability to pay.

In response to the doctors' strike, Kim Min-seok, a major in economics said, "It is the government which caused the doctors' strike by pushing for health care legislation amid the chaos of COVID-19.” Cha Eon-ji, a business administration major who is opposed to the medical strike, said, “At a time when the country is in turmoil, there should not be a strike which puts the lives of the people in jeopardy. This strike is an act that only cares about the interests of the medical community, not the patients.”

The group strike ended with the ruling party, the medical association, and the Welfare Ministry all signing an agreement on September 4, 2020. Medical doctors returned to work on September 9, 2020. However, discussions on the four major medical policies have not ended. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, it will be the patients that suffer. When it comes to social issues, such as the expansion of medical care in unmet areas as highlighted by the doctors' strike, the government should fully discuss with professionals such as doctors and the medical community to find ways to strengthen public health care together.

The two major points of opposition against the four major medical policies that the Medical Association called for the withdrawal of are "expanding the quota of medical schools and establishing the National College of Public Health and Medical Sciences". The Ministry of Health and Welfare unilaterally insisted on a plan to increase the current quota of 3,058 students by up to 400 more students starting in 2022, and to maintain the quota for 10 years. Among the new students added by the quota, 3,000 will be selected as special candidates for the local doctor system and assigned to work in certain regions for 10 years. However, the association is skeptical of the government's position, saying an increase in the number of doctors will not improve the quality of medical care, especially when there is a lack of infrastructure and poor medical environments. In addition, when the additional doctors do their mandatory military service, they are not guaranteed to continue working in underserviced, specialized medical fields, and may instead move on to other regions and open a hospital in a different medical field.

Opposition was similarly met against the establishment of a National College of Public Health and Medical Sciences. The government insisted that it would promote a kind of ‘mandatory military academy’ that fosters essential field-centered skills needed by the nation by utilizing the closed quota of medical schools at the Seonam University university. However, the medical association said that strengthening the competitiveness of medical institutions, giving better treatment, and a full-scale reform of essential medical care should come first.

The government also proposed a pilot project which allows oriental herbal medicine to be covered by health insurance if prescribed for facial nerve paralysis, menstrual pain, and cerebrovascular disease. This pilot project will start in October. In order to ease the public's burden for the treatment of oriental medicine, the government intends to carry out pilot projects for oriental medical clinics that meet certain criteria, including the use of standard herbal medicine, the disclosure of preparation details, and the establishment of an herbal medicine health coverage system. However, the Korean Medical Association criticized the safety and effectiveness of the herbal medicine must take precedence over the establishment of the pilot project.

The government also wants to focus on 'fostering telemedicine'. In May, the government announced plans to establish a virtual care system to prevent a second wave of COVID-19. However, the medical association was concerned that virtual care would lead to telemedicine. Telemedicine would cause the difference in physical accessibility between primary medical institutions and large hospitals to be eliminated, resulting in unequal access to medical care. Consequently, the quality of medical care could vary greatly depending on the patient's ability to pay.

In response to the doctors' strike, Kim Min- seok, a major in economics said, "It is the government which caused the doctors' strike by pushing for health care legislation amid the chaos of COVID-19.” Cha Eon-ji, a business administration major who is opposed to the medical strike, said, “At a time when the country is in turmoil, there should not be a strike which puts the lives of the people in jeopardy. This strike is an act that only cares about the interests of the medical community, not the patients.”

The group strike ended with the ruling party, the medical association, and the Welfare Ministry all signing an agreement on September 4, 2020. Medical doctors returned to work on September 9, 2020. However, discussions on the four major medical policies have not ended. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, it will be the patients that suffer. When it comes to social issues, such as the expansion of medical care in unmet areas as highlighted by the doctors' strike, the government should fully discuss with professionals such as doctors and the medical community to find ways to strengthen public health care together.

By Kim Seong-Ju, cub-reporter  nicole0215@naver.com

<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

icon인기기사
기사 댓글 0
전체보기
첫번째 댓글을 남겨주세요.
여백
여백
여백
Back to Top