President Yoon orders 24-hr healthcare system for children

2023.02.23 09:52:02 | 2023.02.23 09:58:51

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday visits and talks to a child at Seoul National University Children’s Hospital in Jongno District, central Seoul. [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]이미지 확대

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday visits and talks to a child at Seoul National University Children’s Hospital in Jongno District, central Seoul. [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]



South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday called for improvement in the country’s healthcare system for children and ordered the government to establish a 24-hour medical helpline for immediate medical attention.

“Children not feeling well at night should be able to receive remote consultation,” Yoon said, in a policy conference held at Seoul National University Children’s Hospital in Jongno District, central Seoul. “It is the nation’s top priority to manage children’s health. Related ministries should spare no resources.”

Yoon also added that medical fees of children should be guaranteed by the public healthcare plan and an appropriate amount of fees should be subsidized after assessing additional costs.

In addition to a 24-hour helpline for parents of children sick at night, Yoon also instructed government officials to allow them to have video calls with the medical staff.

Yoon’s remarks that underscore enhancing the country’s healthcare system for children come as Korea has been facing a downfall in the number of pediatric wards at hospitals due to a shortage of residents, or trainee doctors. The shortage is mainly blamed at work overload and a decline in the number of patients amid the chronic low birthrate.

According to Representative Seo Young-seok of the Democratic Party that is part of the National Assembly’s Health & Welfare Committee, only 20.1 percent of the 50 university hospitals that offer pediatric service was able to secure medical residents this year, falling for a third year from 36 percent in 2021 and 22 percent in 2022.

As part of efforts to rebuild the children’s healthcare system, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it will place a pediatric emergency doctor in every emergency room of tertiary hospitals including university hospitals and expand the number of pediatric emergency centers nationwide to 12 from 8.

By Park Yoon-kyun, Shim Hee-jin, and Choi Jieun

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