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Industry groups ask Moon to expand policy support
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.05.10 17:30
  • Updated 2017.05.10 20:11
  • comments 0

As President Moon Jae-in steps into the Blue House, various healthcare-related organizations are calling for the new chief executive to help bolster the industry as he had promised during electioneering.

“We congratulate President Moon’s election victory, believing it reflects the nation’s aspiration to achieve social integration and balanced economic development,” the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association said in a statement Wednesday.

The association then asked Moon to create a “control tower,” which oversees and coordinates related ministries and organizations in the healthcare sector.

It also stressed the importance of continuous investment, pointing out that making progress in the pharmaceutical industry is costly and time-consuming, often requiring more than 1 trillion won ($881 million) and a minimum of 10 years for developing a new medicine.

The Korean Dental Association said it would strengthen cooperation with Moon’s Democratic Party and expressed its active support for the governing party on the main issues. The group called for setting up a research body for dental industry’s convergence, coming up with a solution for the problem of assistant workers, adding “panoramic X-rays” to the national health checkup insurance, and launching a department exclusively responsible for oral health.

Officials from the Democratic Party and the Korea Health and Medical Workers’ Union pose for the camera after the union delivered their policy proposal to the then main opposition party at its headquarters last month.

The healthcare workers’ union also raised their voices, urging Moon to place top priority on reforming their jobs.

The Korea Health and Medical Workers’ Union said, "Now is the time to start revolutions in the area of healthcare job market, starting with the enactment of a law to support healthcare workers.”

A union official commented on the current status of the health sector, saying, "Currently, the health sector is about to implode due to workforce shortage, poor working conditions, and high turnover rate. Citizens are also suffering from low-quality medical services, frequent medical accidents, and high medical costs."

The official added that to improve the quality of patient safety and medical services as well as increase public health rights, President Moon should put more emphasis on creating jobs in the healthcare field, improving the healthcare use system, and creating a society that does not have to worry about hospital expenses.

The union, in particular, is advocating reducing working hours to help create 500,000 jobs in the private sector, realizing 1,800-working hour system, and introducing a labor time disclosure scheme at each company.

The union also called for nurturing and supporting “anchoring general hospitals” in 25 vulnerable medical areas, expanding financial assistance for “sound deficits” in public hospitals, increasing regional public health care facilities and nursing homes, establishing specialized hospitals for infectious diseases, and extending children's rehabilitation hospitals to regions, among others.

Korean Medical Association’s Chairman Choo Moo-jin pointed out that the previous government had focused only on economic and commercial aspects of healthcare by pushing for telemedicine, slashing regulations, and setting up regulatory free zones.

He recommended that the new government take a different approach from its predecessor, and invest in “cultivating medical workforce and taking care of vulnerable areas to create a stable medical environment, ultimately providing the best medical services to the people.”

In a statement, Choo also said, "Korea is providing good quality medical services based on a robust health care system. To improve it even better, however, more improvements must be made."


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