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South Korea: thousands of doctors demonstrate, the standoff with the authorities continues

Thousands of South Korean doctors demonstrated Sunday à Seoul, continuing their standoff with the government over a reform of medical training, which saw young doctors resign en masse, plunging the hospitals in chaos.

Some 10,000 young doctors resigned and stopped working almost two weeks ago to protest against an increase in medical school admissions from next year, aimed at improving supply health care for an aging population.

These professionals continued their strike despite the February 29 deadline set by the government for them to return to work under penalty of subject to legal proceedings, arrests or suspension of their medical licenses.

Wearing black masks, protesters held signs reading: “We oppose increasing medical school admissions.”

” The government is implementing reforms unilaterally, which doctors cannot accept under any circumstances,” Kim Taek-woo of the Korean Medical Association told the crowd of protesters.

“The government is fully aware of why all doctors are opposed to increasing medical school admissions, but it is pursuing policies that will make them slaves forever” , he continued.

– Cancellations of treatments –

This very continued work stoppage has wreaks havoc on hospitals, forced to cancel crucial treatments and surgeries, prompting the government to raise its public health alert to the highest level.

According to the Ministry of Health, almost half of the surgeries planned in some major hospitals have been canceled since last week.

South Korea: thousands of doctors demonstrate, the standoff with the authorities continues

South Korean doctors demonstrate in Seoul against the government's desire to increase admissions to medical schools in Seoul on March 3, 2024 © AFP – Jung Yeon-je

South Korean law prohibits doctors from striking, and the government this week asked police to investigate those linked to the movement.

Although the deadline for strikers to return to work has passed, the government will continue to “show the greatest indulgence towards trainee doctors who will return to their posts by the end of the day “, Interior Minister Lee Sang-min said in an interview with KBS television on Sunday.

“But if they don't come back not today, the government will have no choice but to act with severity, in accordance with the laws and principles,” he added.

Mr. Lee reiterated the government's commitment to carrying out reforms, saying that even the 65% increase in medical admissions “is not that strong” given the size of the health care sector.< /p>

The South Korean government wants 2,000 more students to be admitted to medical schools each year starting in 2025, to improve one of the world's worst doctor-to-population ratios. low among developed countries, he says.

Doctors fear the reform will erode the quality of medical services and education, but supporters blame them to want to preserve their salaries and their social status.

According to polls, around 75% of the population supports this reform.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116