Activists slammed the Moon Jae-in government’s plan to give massive support for the biohealth industry, criticizing that it would favor only conglomerates and large hospitals.
The government on Wednesday said it would spend 4 trillion won ($3.36 billion) a year by 2025 to nurture the local biohealth sector and help the nation become a global powerhouse. To do so, the government vowed to scrap various regulations that could hamper the growth of the biohealth industry.
Under the national strategy, the government plans to build “state bio big data” of up to 1 million people with the recognition that data is the key to the innovation of medical technologies. The data will be stored in the National Biobank of Korea and utilized for R&D of customized new therapies and medical technologies.
The government is also to designate “data-centered hospitals” to make the most of massive clinical data accumulated separately at each hospital to study diseases and new drugs.
However, Free Medical Service Movement, a civic group, said on Friday that the government’s scheme was a “policy for healthcare privatization benefiting conglomerates only.”
“The government is trying to open up big data that contains sensitive information about people’s diseases to private companies, and build 1 million people’s bio big data, including genomes,” the group said. “Even if the information is encrypted to make individual identification difficult, it can be easily re-identified with technology advancement. It could also be used for insurance exemptions and crimes.”
The activist group went on to say that the government said it would use large hospitals as the base for the biohealth sector.
“They will support the budget for hospitals’ big data building and make them for-profit ones so that they can establish a technology holding firm. Large hospitals such as Samsung Medical Center and Asan Medical Centers see their dreams come true,” the group said.
The group went on to criticize the government for spending 4 trillion won a year while refusing to pay more for the national health insurance program. “The money going to chaebol should be redirected to the nursing workforce at hospitals so that good jobs can be created. We will fight against the Moon Jae-in government to stop its healthcare privatization policy,” it added.
Free Medical Service Movement plans to hold a news conference in front of Cheong Wa Dae on Monday to oppose the government’s support for the biohealth industry.
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