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Korea has OECD’s fewest physicians per head
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2018.07.13 13:44
  • Updated 2018.07.13 13:48
  • comments 0

South Korea had 2.3 physicians per 1,000 people in 2016, the fewest among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the government said Thursday. The nation’s number of nurses also failed to reach the OECD average. However, Korean doctors offered consultations the most among their OECD peers.

Korea had 12 sickbeds per 1,000 people, 2.6 times higher than the OECD average of 4.7. The country had more magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units and computed tomography (CT) scanners than the average of the OECD.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare released a report comparing the nation’s health status and rankings in major indicators of the OECD Health Statistics 2018.

In the section of healthcare resources, Korea had 2.3 medical doctors, including Oriental medicine practitioners, per 1,000 people, the fewest among OECD states. The OECD average stood at 3.3 per 1,000.

Korea’s number of medical graduates stood at 7.9 per 100,000 people, far fewer than the OECD average of 12.1 in 2016. The Korean figure was only one-third of Ireland’s 24.4.

The nation had 6.8 practicing nurses per 1,000 people, 2.7 fewer than the OECD’s average of 9.5. Norway topped the list with 17.5 nurses, followed by Switzerland with 17.

In 2016, a Korean had 17 consultations from doctors on average, which was the most among the OECD. The figure is 2.3 times higher than the OECD average of 7.4 consultations per head a year.

Japan came next with 12.8. Sweden and Mexico had the fewest consultations with 2.8 and 2.9, respectively.

Korea’s average length of hospital stay per patient was 18.1 days, second longer to Japan’s 28.5. The OECD average was 8.3 days. Excluding Korea and Japan, the OECD average was fewer than 10 days.

In 2016, the nation had 12 hospital beds per 1,000 people, the second most after Japan’s 13.1. The OECD average was 4.7.

While most OECD countries except for Korea and Turkey have witnessed sickbeds declining in the past five years, Korea had a 1.3-fold increase.

Korea had 27.8 MRI machines per 1 million people, staying much above the OECD average of 16.8. Japan had the most with 51.7, followed by the U.S. with 36.7 and Germany with 34.5.

The country had 37.8 CT scanners, also higher than the OECD average of 26.8. In contrast, 17 other countries, including Spain and the U.K., had fewer than 20.

In the surgery section, Korea performed 7.7 coronary artery bypass surgeries per 100,000 people, which was about 20 percent of the OECD’s average of 37.6.

The nation carried out 394 cesarean sections per 1,000 births, the second most after Turkey’s 531.5. The OECD average was 264.

Korea’s per-capita current expenditure on health was $2,897, lower than the OECD average of $4,069, in 2017.

In the same year, the nation’s healthcare expenditure as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) marked 7.6 percent, slightly lower than the OECD average of 8.9 percent. However, Korea’s health spending growth rate of 5.9 percent in the past decade was the fastest in OECD.

Korea’s share of long-term care (LTC) recipients out of the elderly population aged 60 or more was at 7.8 percent, lower than the OECD average of 12.5 percent.

However, due to a surge of LTC recipients amid rapid population aging, the proportion of the spending on LTC out of GDP spiked to 0.9 percent in 2016 from 0.3 percent in 2008. The OECD had 1.1 percent on average.

The nation experienced a quick rise in the number of LTC hospital beds, which almost reached the OECD’s 2012 average of 50. In 2016, the number went up to 61.2 per 1,000 senior populations, which was the most after that of Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden.

As the principal government agency to provide health management, disease prevention and support for vulnerable groups, the health and welfare ministry said it would use the OECD health data to check the nation’s health status and improve the healthcare system.


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