South Korea President Yoon Calls for Constructive Dialogue With Striking Doctors Amid Healthcare Crisis

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed willingness on Monday to engage in dialogue with dissenting doctors amidst ongoing strikes against his proposed increase in medical school admissions.

 The President’s remarks come amid escalating tensions between the government and medical professionals, who are protesting against what they perceive as insufficient measures to address the country’s doctor shortage.

During a 50-minute address to the nation, President Yoon extended an olive branch to striking doctors, signaling a potential compromise on his medical reform agenda. He acknowledged the inconvenience caused by the strikes but criticized the medical sector for prioritizing self-interest over public health concerns. President Yoon emphasized the need for constructive dialogue, stating, “If you come up with a more proper and reasonable solution, we can discuss it as much as you want.”

The strike, which began on February 20th, has seen over 90% of the country’s 13,000 trainee doctors participating, highlighting the widespread discontent within the medical community. At the heart of the dispute is the government’s proposal to increase medical school admissions by 2,000 starting in 2025, aiming to address South Korea’s doctor shortage, which stands at 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people, significantly below the OECD average of 3.7.

Despite previous government efforts to tackle the shortage, including measures targeting essential services like pediatrics and emergency units, opposition from the medical sector has stymied progress. Critics argue that the Yoon administration’s plan fails to address fundamental issues such as low pay for trainee doctors and insufficient consultation with medical professionals.

President Yoon refuted these claims, urging the medical community to provide concrete proposals backed by scientific evidence. He criticized the lack of collaboration from doctors’ groups, stating, “After keeping a deafening silence over the government’s request to provide specific numbers for medical school quotas, the medical community is now throwing numbers like 350, 500, and 1,000 without any grounds.”

As the strike continues and tensions persist, President Yoon’s willingness to engage in dialogue offers a glimmer of hope for a resolution to the ongoing crisis. However, reaching a consensus that satisfies both the government and the medical sector remains a formidable challenge amidst deeply entrenched disagreements and divergent interests.

Chioma Kalu

Source link: Arise News/

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