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‘Korea has enough medical devices but lacks workforce’
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2020.07.22 15:18
  • Updated 2020.07.22 15:18
  • comments 0

Although Korea has sufficient medical devices and hospital beds, the nation is short of medical professionals who can use them, an OECD report showed.

That was part of the OECD Health Statistics analysis by the Ministry of Health and Welfare 2020, released on Wednesday.

According to the analysis, Korea has 82.7 years of life expectancy, longer than the OECD average of 80.7 years. Death rates of major diseases in Korea are also lower than the OECD average.

On the other hand, only 32 percent of the population aged 15 or more considered themselves healthy, the lowest among OECD members.

The proportion of overweight and obese people over 15 stood at 34.3 percent, the second-lowest among OECD. Some 17.5 percent of Koreans over 15 were smokers. The average annual alcohol consumption per capita was 8.5 liters, about the average of OECD.

According to OECD’s age-adjusted mortality rate, 160.1 out of 100,000 Koreans die from cancer, 142.1, from circulatory system diseases such as cerebrovascular disease, and 11.3, from dementia. The figures are relatively smaller than the OECD average.

Korea has more MRI and CT facilities than the OECD average. The nation has 12.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people, 2.8 times higher than the OECD average of 4.5.

However, Korea had only 2.4 clinicians, including Oriental medicine practitioners, per 1,000 people and 7.2 nurses per 1,000. This shows that the Korean healthcare pool is smaller than the OECD average – 3.5 clinicians and 8.9 nurses per 1,000 people.

Korea’s number of 2.4 clinicians per 1,000 was the third-lowest among OECD members, trailing right behind Colombia.

As of 2018, Korea had 7.2 nurses and nursing assistants per 1,000, which was lower than the OECD average of 8.9.

The nation had 12.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people, the second most after Japan’s 13, and 2.8 times higher than the OECD average at 4.5.

In the past five years, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people grew by 2.6 percent a year. The number of beds for acute treatment inched up only 0.1 percent, but that for long-term nursing increased 6.7 percent.

Korea had 30.1 MRI devices and 38.6 CT scanners per 1 million people, higher than the OECD averages.

An average Korean went to see a doctor 16.9 times per year, which was the most frequent among OECD members. A Korean spent $3,085.2 (in purchasing power parity) for current health expenditure and bought $642.6 worth of medicines per year, and the numbers are growing.

However, the proportion of out-of-the-pocket payment among current health expenditure has gradually decreased from 37.1 percent in 2008 to 32.5 percent in 2018.

In 2018, Korean inpatients spent 19.1 days per person, the second-longest next to Japan’s 27.8 days. The OECD average is 8.1 days.

The average hospital stay for acute treatment was 7.5 days in Korea, also longer than the OECD average at 6.5 days.

About 9 percent of Koreans aged 65 and more received long-term nursing care. The proportion was lower than the OECD average of 14 percent.

However, the rapid aging of the population and the enhanced long-term nursing care for the elderly are likely to push up the figure down the road, the government said.


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