Addressing Regional Medical Gaps
Addressing Regional Medical Gaps
  • Choi Eun-seo
  • 승인 2024.03.25 19:19
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(Provided by Freepik)
(Provided by Freepik)

  Regional medical gaps in Korea have intensified and become more visible. The Yeungnam Observer pointed out this situation in Issue No. 369, and the Korean government initiated a regional essential doctor system to solve this problem.

  First, this difference was evident in the ‘2019 National Land Monitoring Report’ released by the National Geographic Information Institute of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The medically vulnerable population in Seoul wa s 443, but the Gyeongsangbuk-do region was 312,518, accounting for 43.24% of the population. In addition, there was a significant difference in the average distance between patients and emergency medical facilities of about 30 kilometers. It takes an average of six minutes in Seoul and 45 minutes in Jeju.

  As there is such a difference in medical gaps between regions, there are many cases where patients are not receiving treatment. On May 31, 2023, an elderly man in his 70s was in a car accident in Yongin, Gyeonggido. Several nearby hospitals notified the ambulance that they were unable to admit the patient, and eventually, he died. Several nearby hospitals notified them that they were unable to admit the patient, and eventually, he died. This kind of incident has happened in many areas. In March 2023, a teenage student fell from a four-story building in Buk-gu district, Daegu. The victim suffered severe injuries and traveled around to several emergency rooms but eventually died. Consequently, the government took these problems ser iously and devised new measures.

  In addition, the number of patients coming to Seoul on medical expedit ions is significant. However, the lack of suitable residential space has become a significant issue. That is why the government has put forward the regional essential doctor system to solve the shortage of doctors outside of Seoul. Doctors who receive scholarships, subsidized training, and housing expenses work in the region for a certain period. Universities, local governments, and medical students contract and receive various benefits from the government. Through this, Doctors are guaranteed sufficient income and sign longterm service contracts with local essential medical institutions. It is also conducted exclusively by the Korean government.

  The regional essential doctor system can be seen as slightly more advanced than the ‘regional system of doctors’ promoted by the Democratic Party of Korea in February 2024. The local agenda is to select a local doctor separately when entering medical school and make it compulsory to work for ten years. On the other hand, the regional essential agenda differs in that it guarantees the doctor’s livelihood and the doctor’s right to choose. It also announced that the ratio of mandatory selection of local talent for local talent selection will be significantly raised in the university entrance examination.

  In addition, it was announced that the rate of mandatory selection of local talents for the college entrance examination will also be significantly increased. More than 40% of the nonmetropolitan medical school quota is reserved for local talent.

  The government also announced it would increase the ratio further than a certain number. There are good points, but there are voices of concern about the program’s effectiveness. Some say that if medical personnelare publicly trained, more doctors will be chasing money. In addition, an official of the Korean Medical Association also mentioned that the government’s policy without countermeasures was in great confusion.

  In conclusion, attempts to address the medical gap between regions at the government level are rightly laudable. Therefore, to implement the regional essential doctor system in the future, it seems necessary to listen to the voices of concern and reflect them to develop our society further.

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