The government’s pilot program to help enhance children’s health through promoting oriental medicine is irrelevant and lacking in substance, lawmakers said Friday.
Their comments came during a parliamentary audit of the Korea Health Promotion Institute, which has operated the program for 500 children aged 3-5 at daycare centers from September to October in six sessions.
As the last year’s pilot program was criticized for focusing only on the promotion of oriental medicine hospitals instead of educating children about essential treatments, this year’s sessions were composed of two activities – coloring herbal medicines and oriental stretching exercises.
The purpose of the program, stated as “improving children’s immunity through helping them build a healthy lifestyle,” actually had nothing to do with a need to promote oriental medicine, the lawmakers said.
“From the feasibility study to the implementation, the pilot program did not include a prior consultation with teachers at daycare centers but only allowed public health experts and oriental medicine practitioners to participate. This is why it failed to meet the needs of young children,” said Rep. Choi Do-ja of the opposition People’s Party.
“The pilot program to promote health through oriental medicine is already being criticized in all aspects. Without redressing the latest issues, it will face mounting concerns for wasting the government’s budget,” she added.
Rep. Park In-sook of the minor opposition Bareun Party sharply criticized the program like the one “similar to an ignorant online community” where mothers raise their children without any use of medicine. The Internet café has been rapped for child abuse in recent weeks.
Park said taking dozens of young children aged 3-5 to an oriental medicine hospital to show them acupuncture and moxibustion runs counter to a recent recommendation by the health authorities that advise people not to bring children under the age of 12 to a hospital to prevent an infection. The advice came in the wake of the nationwide outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2015.
Park also questioned whether such program could improve children’s health.
She said the program’s review study, which cost 43 million won, only measured the number of visits to oriental medicine hospital, changes in children’s absence, their awareness of oriental medicine, how they put them in practice for health, and how much health-promoting snacks they took a week.
“The study did not show any change in children’s health status or any improvement in health issues,” Park said.
She added that it was entirely unreasonable to conclude that a reduction in hospital visits and absence in daycare center were regarded as a sign of health improvement.
“This reminds of the online café where an oriental medicine practitioner forced a mother not to treat her child with any medicine,” she said.
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