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Korean visit hospitals most frequently in OECD despite fewest physicians
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.07.22 17:36
  • Updated 2019.07.22 17:36
  • comments 0

Korea showed mixed results in the 2019 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Health Statistic report with some categories continuing to lag behind the global average and some improving compared with the previous year.

As of 2017, for example, Koreans most frequently visited hospitals to receive treatment among OECD member but continued to have the fewest physicians per capita within the organization.

The average outpatient visits to doctors by Korean patients was 16.6 visits a year, 2.3 times higher than that of the OECD’s average of 7.1. Despite the frequent hospital visits, the nation failed to make any difference in the number of physicians treating the patients. Korea continued to have 2.3 physicians, including oriental medicine doctors, per 1,000 people in 2017 while the OECD average increased to 3.4 from 3.3 in 2016.

The report also showed that the country would not be able to reach the OECD average of physicians’ number anytime soon as the number of medical graduates also decreased from 7.9 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 7.6 in 2017. The figure was only one-third of Ireland, which had the highest number of medical graduates with 24.9 per 100,000 people.

Korea’s average length of hospital stay per patient was 18.5 days, the longest among OECD countries except for Japan (28.2). Excluding Korea and Japan, the OECD average was fewer than 10 days, with an average of 8.2 days.

The nation’s number of nurses also failed to reach the OECD average in 2017 with 6.9 nurses per 1,000 people, 2.1 nurses short of the OECD average of nine nurses per 1,000 people.

Also, global statistics showed that Koreans also have little confidence in their health.

The nation hit bottom in this category with the number of Koreans answering that they thought they were healthy decreasing even further to 29.5 percent in 2017 from 32.5 percent the previous year. The OECD average was 67.9 percent.

The nation, however, made improvements in some areas in 2017.

Korea managed to decrease the use of antibiotics from 34.8 defined daily dosage (DDD) per 1,000 inhabitants a day in 2017, compared to 32 DDD per 1,000 inhabitants per day in 2016. The OECD average was 19.1 DDD per 1,000 inhabitants.

The nation also increased its life-expectancy average from 82.4 years old to 82.7, while reducing deaths due to cancer by 168.4 patients per 100,000 people to 165.2 over the period. The OECD average for the two criteria was 80.7 years old and 200 patients per 100,000 people, respectively.

Korea also removed itself from the disgraceful title of the highest suicide rate among OECD nations. The nation lowered its suicide rate from 25.8 per 100,000 to 24.6. Lithuania ranked first in the 2019 statistics with a suicide rate of 26.7 per 100,000 people.

The OECD statistic also showed that Korea reduced its shares of the overweight or obese population measured from 34.5 percent to 33.7 percent. The OECD average was 59.3 percent.


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