Jeong Eun-kyeong 정은경, director of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC)질병관리본부, said KCDC would build a closer cooperation system with primary medical institutions to strengthen the monitoring of infectious diseases.
For example, KCDC will sign an MOU with Korean Medical Association (KMA)대한의사협회 to provide information about infectious diseases through text messages and interconnect such information to the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system of the medical institutions, Jeong said meeting with reporters covering the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
“The role of the primary medical institutions is crucial in monitoring and detecting diseases to prevent them. Their awareness about the diseases has increased after the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome incident and the spread of Zika virus,” Jeong said.
“We have long considered linking the information about infectious diseases to the EMR system and are almost ready to put it into action technically,” she said. “We will implement action plans through consultation with the medical community.”
The KCDC head also commented on the importance of pharmacies.
“The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) incident also caused considerable damage to pharmacies. In the case of national catastrophe, pharmacists’ roles are also important as they meet patients nearest,” Jeong said. “If can give us some ideas on how to make the most of the pharmacies, we will think about them seriously.”
She emphasized after the MERS incident, KCDC became the control tower to deal with infectious diseases.
“In the early stage of the MERS incident, we made a task force within KCDC. As the situation worsened, however, there was chaos resulting from changing the control tower to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) 보건복지부 and the Office of the Prime Minister,” she noted.
“To prepare for the outbreak of infectious diseases, the government made a new governance regime, in which it sets up a control tower at KCDC, and when the centers need supports from other ministries, the government can add functions to the control tower. KCDC has come to play the role of a substantive control tower,” Jeong said.
The role of the functional control tower, of course, accompanies corresponding responsibility. This is KCDC is to put a priority on enhancing its ability as the specialized agency to control infections, Jeong said, adding that field work requires a high sense of responsibility.
“Decades have passed since I started work at a local public health center,” Jeong said. “The work of government employees is challenging as we have to take responsibility for our jobs, but I have never regretted working as a civil servant,” Jeong said.
Jeong, who was appointed to the post by President Moon Jae-in on July 26, is the first female director of KCDC.
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