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[Column] Correct diagnosis leads to proper treatment
  • By Shin Eui-cheol
  • Published 2020.09.02 13:10
  • Updated 2020.09.02 23:17
  • comments 0

The writer is professor at the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

The clash between the government and the medical community over the issue of increasing doctors does not seem to be resolved at any time soon.

I graduated from a medical school and obtained a medical license but I am not a clinician. This is why I decided to write a column to support doctors’ actions because I am free from a vested interest of clinicians.

Both doctors and the government agree that the Korean healthcare system is seriously imbalanced. Sometimes, even I worry about my future when I get old. If the nation does not change the status quo of the Korean medical system where the best doctors are concentrated in the Seoul metro area, I might not be able to get a thoracic surgeon.

Shin Eui-cheol, a professor at the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

The concentration of medical professionals in greater Seoul and the extreme shortage of them in provinces are not an exclusively Korean problem. However, people living in provincial areas find it very difficult to receive excellent medical services.

If we want to resolve the issue, we should first make an accurate diagnosis to identify why the problem occurred. Then, we can come up with an appropriate prescription and effective treatment.

However, the government believes that all of the complicated problems, which have been accumulated since the nation introduced a national health insurance system, could be resolved by simply increasing doctors and establishing a state-run medical school.

The government is acting like a fake doctor who gives a quack prescription because it is too cumbersome to make an accurate diagnosis. Or, the government might already know that their plan would not be an answer but push it anyway for other reasons.

According to news reports, the government said it would be difficult to reverse the healthcare policy because it has already implemented it considerably.

I do not know much about the administration but I think it is common sense that the government should stop a policy at any time if it turns out to be wrong. The government’s claim is illogical.

The government’s plan to allow health insurance benefits for traditional herbal medicines prompted doctors to go on a nationwide strike but the media did not cover the issue significantly.

This policy cannot exist in any modern and civilized society but the government is pushing it in Korea, an arguably advanced nation, in the 21st century.

Patients cannot use some innovative medicines because they are not reimbursable despite their verified efficacy. Given the situation, the government must withdraw its plan for reimbursement of traditional herbal medicines.

Korea, where all people subscribe to the national health insurance program, should ban medical practices that are not proven by evidence-based science.

I noticed that the government’s plan to expand medical school admissions quotas included a scheme to nurture medical scientists. As a medical doctor and a scientist, I can understand why the government came up with such an idea.

However, the government sees doctors as a “capital to invest” and the state-backed nurturing of medical scientists will not produce a fruitful result.

Healthcare policymakers should keep in mind that an accurate diagnosis will lead to appropriate treatment.

Lastly, I would like to say these words to junior doctors engaging in a difficult fight to oppose the wrong healthcare policy.

I am sorry because writing this column is the only thing I can do for you. But I hope this column could be a little consolation for you.


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