Implications for Poor Public Healthcare System of South Korea Revealed in MERS Outbreak

Implications for Poor Public Healthcare System of South Korea Revealed in MERS Outbreak

MyungHee Kim (Sahmyook University, Seoul, Korea)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/IJEHMC.2018100103

Abstract

This article aims to prevent the possible recurrence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) by understanding the status of South Korea's public healthcare system through a literature review. In addition, it presents measures to reinforce the public health system by analyzing the roles and limitations of the health authority, which plays a key role in preventing the spread of this infectious disease, through their response to the recent MERS outbreak in the country. Based on the analysis, the results showed the following implications: (1) Community health centers need to expand and reinforce their functions. It is important to publish response manuals at the national level and regularly educate and train medical service providers on infectious disease control, especially against diseases such as MERS. Accordingly, manpower and facilities must be developed. (2) Public hospitals located in regional hubs must expand to establish a public healthcare system. Public healthcare and emergency healthcare systems should be established by connecting community health centers, regional hub hospitals, and national university hospitals. The improvements in the facility must to be supported to help increase the efficiency of public health system. (3) Awareness among people must increase with respect to the prevention of infectious diseases and managing direct contact with infected patients. Most importantly, education and training on infectious disease prevention must be regularly provided to the public, and social support systems and programs must be organized for the infected people who are in self-isolation.
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Overview On South Korea’S Public Healthcare System

Role of Public Healthcare and Public Healthcare Institutions

Government intervention is necessary in public healthcare for publicness and realization of public goods. Article 2 of the Public Health and Medical Services Act, established in 2000, states, “all activities of the State, local governments, and of public and medical institutions to ensure all citizens equal access to medical services and to protect and promote their health” (Public Health and Medical Services Act, 2000). Accordingly, healthcare and medical institutions are for the public and must (1) provide medical services to the low-income class, elderly, and physically challenged, (2) implement measures for infectious disease control and preventive healthcare projects against special diseases, such as tuberculosis and psychological disorders, and (3) services for national health protection and improvement. In South Korea, public healthcare institutions include community health centers that are run by public institutions, the branch offices of community health centers, healthcare centers, clinics, and general hospitals.

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