Archive image of medical workers in protective gear walking in a hospital to treat coronavirus patients amid a surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Daegu, South Korea. March 8, 2020. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon / Archive
SEOUL, Jul 24 (Reuters) – South Korea will add 4,000 medical students in the next 10 years to strengthen the ranks of its health personnel and improve its response to other future health emergencies, government officials and party authorities said in the power.
Authorities warned of the need to train more doctors for possible outbreaks of infectious diseases even more serious than the COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus, pointing to the risk of more frequent epidemics at a time when there is a limited number of beds to attend to the sick.
To fill that gap, authorities said they plan to increase the number of admissions to medical schools using a combination of new fees and incentives for students in less lucrative specialties and for those completing a decade working in public health in a rural area.
“We will increase the quota for medical students to strengthen health teams in specialized fields,” said Kim Tae-nyeon, a legislator with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.
The plan is to raise student admissions to medical schools by about 400 a year for the next decade, before returning to the 3,058 quota, which has been flat since 2006.
The government said it will provide tuition grants and offer full scholarships to about 300 students in areas such as epidemiology, gynecology, or surgery, considered unpopular majors in contrast to plastic surgery or dermatology.
Authorities have said that South Korea’s 2018 ratio of 2.4 doctors per 1,000 people was well below the average of 3.5 for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations.
Report of Sangmi Cha. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo