Central government reform to improve national disease control
Journal of the Korean Medical Association (대한의사협회지), Vol.58(8) : 714~722, 2015
Journal of the Korean Medical Association (대한의사협회지)
The Republic of Korea performed well in controlling severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 and not bad in controlling pandemic influenza H1N1 in 2009, even though the manpower and budget available in 2003 and 2009 were less than those of 2015 during Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak. Korea's healthcare system has been producing outstanding results in general, in that 5-year relative survival rates of stomach, colorectal, liver and cervical cancer are top level of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and 30 days mortality rate of ischemic stroke is only 3.4% comparing to 8.5%, the average of OECD countries. However, in May and June 2015, the level of communicable disease control of Middle East respiratory syndrome fell down. This phenomenon can be assessed as a failure of quarantine system, weak healthcare system infrastructure, the local custom of frequent visiting of family and friends in the hospitals, and especially inappropriate responses of top decision body for communicable disease. The fundamental reason of this failure has been the weakening of health part in Ministry of Health and Welfare (MoHW) because welfare part of MoHW is being rapidly expanded for growing needs of social protection. In order to response of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and strengthen the medical care system, the Ministry of Health (MoH) should be spun off as an independent organization from the MoHW. The proposed MoH would have 2,805 public servants, a 14,768 billion won budget, and 11 affiliated institutions. It would still be one of large and important ministry in Korea central government.