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Health

Medical licences must not be used as a tool against people: S. Korea Prez

IANS | March 19, 2024 11:28 AM

SEOUL: Lamenting the ongoing walkout by junior doctors in South Korea, President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday asked them not to use their medical licences as a tool against the people.

Yoon remarked during a Cabinet meeting as thousands of trainee doctors remained off their jobs for a month to protest the government's plan to increase admissions to medical schools by 2, 000 starting next year, Yonhap news agency reported.

The government has stood by the plan, citing the need to supply more physicians, especially to rural areas and essential medical fields, while doctors' groups have demanded the shortage be addressed by better compensating underpaid specialists and other means.

The medical reform in front of us is our duty to the people, as well as the people's command, " Yoon was quoted as saying during the meeting at the presidential office, making clear he would not back down.

"It is truly regrettable that certain doctors, who should remain by patients' sides and persuade trainee doctors, who are their juniors, are neglecting the people's desire for medical reform and failing to properly fulfill their duty as doctors and teachers, " he said.

The government has sent prior notices to junior doctors taking part in the walkout that their medical licences will be suspended if they fail to return to work. The standoff has shown little signs of a breakthrough, as medical professors have resolved to join the collective action by submitting their resignations next Monday.

"Medical licences that have been granted to save people's lives should not be used as a tool to threaten and cause anxiety among the people, " Yoon said, recalling his visit to a hospital the previous day and the medical staff he witnessed continuing to provide treatment. "I hope the medical staff, who have left the patients' sides will return to the patients' sides like them."

Yoon said a special presidential committee on medical reform will be launched in April to enable dialogue between doctors' groups and the government.

He also promised to host debates on medical reform issues similar to the people's livelihood debates he has led since the start of the year, the report said.

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