Korea should get real on HIV (JoongAng Daily)

“Put simply, the Korean government’s view and treatment of people living with HIV is outdated and contrary to internationally recognized best practices, and needs to change now.”


The Korean government considers people living with HIV morally unfit to teach English and medically unfit to receive government scholarships to study at Korean universities. But the UN and governments around the world have long recognized that such policies are unjustified on any sort of health or human rights grounds. In such an economically and scientifically advanced country, this is an astonishing reminder that in some respects Korea still needs to catch up with the rest of the world.

Today, foreign English teachers in Korea must pass periodic HIV tests to keep their positions, and foreign graduate students may be disqualified from exchange programs and have government scholarships revoked if they are found to be HIV-positive. International human rights condemnation has not altered these facts.

In 2015, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination decided that Korea’s HIV testing requirements for foreign English teachers could not be justified on public health grounds and qualified as racial discrimination as most ethnic Koreans were not subjected to the same requirement. In late 2016, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea issued two decisions recommending an end to HIV restrictions on foreign English teachers and government-invited foreign graduate school scholarship recipients.

Former President Park Geun-hye and her government ignored all three determinations. However, the May 9 election for a new President offers an opportunity for a new president and government to revisit this issue.

Sadly, shortcomings in public education on HIV/AIDS remain a problem. As a result, many Koreans believe HIV to be far more infectious and transmissible than it really is and see a health threat that in practice does not exist. Contrary to the views of far too many in Korea, HIV cannot be spread through casual contact and modern medications can reduce the likelihood of transmission nearly to zero. Indeed, local health activists report that there are no known cases in Korea of a foreign teacher infecting a student with HIV.

As the Human Rights Commission recognized in its decisions, imposing HIV travel restrictions does not yield any public health benefit to Koreans. Advances in HIV treatment have vastly improved both quality of life and survival for people living with the disease, to the point that it can now be successfully managed with a daily pill. A recent study found that some people living with HIV in the United States “now have life expectancies equal to or even higher than the U.S. general population.”

Work and study restrictions on foreigners living with HIV may, in fact, have negative public health repercussions. By explicitly linking HIV to foreigners, these restrictions play a role in frustrating domestic prevention measures by suggesting that HIV is simply a foreign problem that can be addressed through border control.

By strengthening the stigma against HIV, the government’s restrictions can also discourage HIV-positive Koreans from seeking treatment and contribute to fear of prejudice that causes many people to choose not to get tested for HIV — which increases the disease’s potential for harm. The stigma in Korea is so pervasive that people living with HIV are reportedly 10 times more likely to commit suicide than Koreans without HIV.

The World Health Organization announced that there was no justification for HIV-based travel restrictions in 1987, and in 2006 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS stated that the practice is “discriminatory and cannot be justified by public health concerns.” In 2012, UNAIDS and the Global Business Coalition on Health presented a pledge by the CEOs of 24 multinational companies opposing HIV travel restrictions.

Fewer and fewer countries maintain travel restrictions on people living with HIV. The U.S. did away with its travel ban in 2010, the same year the Korean government itself recognized restrictions as a form of discrimination. Korea went on to claim at the 2012 International AIDS Conference that it had rescinded all HIV-related travel restrictions on foreigners — even as it continued to require foreigners seeking work visas to undergo health checks that included HIV testing.

Put simply, the Korean government’s view and treatment of people living with HIV is outdated and contrary to internationally recognized best practices, and needs to change now. Preventing people living with HIV from studying or teaching in Korea may fuel xenophobia, does not protect Koreans from HIV, isolates and marginalizes people living with HIV, and perpetuates dangerous popular misconceptions about the realities of the condition. Korean officials should instead recognize that HIV is a global health problem to be addressed through treatment, prevention and education.

Korea prides itself on its technological leadership, and the issues in this presidential election center on modernizing political and business relationships. Instead of banning and shaming people living with HIV, Korea should promote public education about HIV transmission and treatment, improve access to HIV treatment, and combat the damaging myth that a HIV diagnosis represents a moral failure. And it should stop requiring HIV testing for foreign students and teachers.

*The author is the John Gardner Fellow for Health and Human Rights at Human Rights Watch.

Courtney Tran

Article published on : http://bit.ly/2qqM7AD

Children of undocumented migrants called ‘illegal’ and denied basic rights (hankyoreh)

 

“The children here are frequently sick and have a hard time recovering. Dat, 4, whose parents are from Vietnam, often got pneumonia because he lived in a mouldy basement. After 50 months, his physical development was only at the 24-month level. Since undocumented migrant children aren’t covered by National Health Insurance, Dat’s parents have to pay the whole doctor’s bill. Even a mild cold ends up costing nearly 20,000 won (US$17.50). “Parents can’t take their children to the doctor unless they’re really sick,” said Bae Sang-yun, director of the center.”

 

 

 

Children learn the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

Daycare centre in Gunpo sees number of children rise and fall according to government crackdowns

This daycare center was built by renovating a 182-square meter flat on the second floor of a building. In a small garden out front, there’s a healthy crop of cherry tomatoes that the children planted.

But this place is different from other daycare centers. The teachers watching the children romping around the padded floor are resigned to the possibility that one of them might not show up the next day, without any notice. When parents don’t show up at the appointed time to pick up their children, the teachers think less about the extra work this entails than about a a government crackdown.

Children play on the playground at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

This past January, Asia Chang Daycare Center, which looks after the children of undocumented migrant workers, opened in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province. The space was provided by the Beautiful Foundation, while the center is run by Asia Chang, a group advocating the human rights of migrants. Just like many other parents, undocumented migrant workers need someone’s help to raise their kids. Official daycare centers are out of their reach, which is why a handful of these alternatives have opened in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. The children here that are running around in front of your eyes don’t exist, at least according to government records.

The children here are frequently sick and have a hard time recovering. Dat, 4, whose parents are from Vietnam, often got pneumonia because he lived in a mouldy basement. After 50 months, his physical development was only at the 24-month level. Since undocumented migrant children aren’t covered by National Health Insurance, Dat’s parents have to pay the whole doctor’s bill. Even a mild cold ends up costing nearly 20,000 won (US$17.50). “Parents can’t take their children to the doctor unless they’re really sick,” said Bae Sang-yun, director of the center.

Children watch a music video while eating lunch at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

These children aren’t getting free daycare – it costs about 1 million won (US$880) a month per child. But thanks to donations, the parents only have to pay 100,000 won. They’re basically relying not on the government but on good will. As word about the daycare center spread, people have moved to Gunpo from other parts of Gyeonggi Province and from Seoul. The daycare center said there are usually about 10 children at the daycare center, but when there’s a crackdown, the number decreases. There are currently seven children at the center.

Children put name tags on cherry tomatoes they planted at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

Undocumented newborn babies are sometimes sent back to their home countries alone, without their parents. Last week, the parents of a six-month-old baby ultimately gave up their efforts to enroll the child in the center and sent the child home. Even if they had sent the baby to the center, they both have to work until after 9 pm, and there was no one to look after the baby and no money to pay for it. The baby’s mother sobbed as she spoke with Bae on the phone. “If kids had the minimum right to be taken care of, which might include temporary visas for kids, you wouldn’t see babies being separated from their parents before they’ve even been weened,” he said. While South Korean families turn to emergency childcare services provided by the central government and local governments for gaps in their schedule, such services aren’t available for these undocumented migrants.

Groups trying to support undocumented migrant children have tried unsuccessfully to pass the Basic Law to Guarantee the Rights of Migrant Children. The form of assistance they’re currently exploring would entail revising the Child Welfare Act. “South Korean society is disregarding the universal human right of protecting children,” said So Rami, a lawyer with the Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation. In 1991, South Korea ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that all children must be protected from all kinds of discrimination.

 

By Park Su-ji, staff reporter in Gunpo

Original Article from  http://bit.ly/2r113T1

Rights watchdog calls for equal disability benefits for refugees (Yonhap)

#social_benefit #health_right #National_Human_Rights_Commission_of_Korea #equal_right_for_disabled_refugee


Refugees with disabilities are entitled to the same social security benefits as Korean nationals, South Korea’s human rights watchdog said Wednesday.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea said that it has asked the minister of health and welfare to revise the Welfare of Disabled Persons Act and related guidelines to ensure disabled refugees living in South Korea are treated equally with handicapped Korean citizens.

This photo, taken on Jan. 23, 2017, shows Lee Sung-ho, the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, presiding over a meeting in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The commission began its review of the nation’s refugee benefit policy last year after finding out that a refugee child with a brain disorder was unable to enroll in school after failing to register as disabled and receive the relevant state subsidies.

The commission noted that international human rights accords, such as the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, along with domestic refugee laws stipulate equal treatment of refugees and host country nationals in terms of social security benefits. (Yonhap)

 

Original Article from: http://bit.ly/2q4ucfL

Moon Opposed Legalizing Homosexuality, But Is Against Discrimination of Sexual Minorities (kyunghyang)

South Korean presidential front runner Moon Jae-in has outraged persecuted sexual minority groups by saying during a television debate that he opposes homosexuality.

“Homosexuality is not an issue we can be in favor of or against. Sexual identity is literally an issue of sexual identity.”
-Sim Sang-jeung

But the only one candidate who stood up for equal rights for sexual minorities had to bear vulgar hate-speech on woman from other MAN-candidate.

#Homosexuality #Discrimination #Sexual_identity_not_preference #hatespeach #HomophobicKorea

 


Presidential candidates Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party of Korea, Hong Jun-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party, Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party, Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party and Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party sit at a round table taking part in a TV debate organized by JTBC, the JoongAng Daily, and the Korean Political Science Association at Bitmaru in Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do on April 25. National Assembly press photographersPresidential candidates Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party of Korea, Hong Jun-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party, Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party, Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party and Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party sit at a round table taking part in a TV debate organized by JTBC, the JoongAng Daily, and the Korean Political Science Association at Bitmaru in Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do on April 25. National Assembly press photographers

Moon Jae-in (64), the presidential candidate of the Minjoo Party of Korea, announced his opposition to same-sex relationships.
In a debate of presidential candidates organized by JTBC, the JoongAng Daily, and the Korean Political Science Association on April 25, Hong Jun-pyo, the candidate of the Liberty Korea Party asked, “Are you against homosexuality?” to which Moon answered, “I am not fond of it.” When Hong further questioned, “I’m not asking if you like homosexuality, I am asking you if you are for it or against it,” Moon answered, “I am not in favor of legalizing it (homosexuality).”
Hong continued to press Moon mentioning how Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul was allowing sexual minorities the right to use Seoul Plaza, to which Moon asked, “How is not discriminating them and allowing them their right to use Seoul Plaza the same as recognizing it (homosexuality)?” repeatedly expressing his opposition to same-sex relationships. When Hong again asked, “Do you think that homosexuality within the military weakens our defense power?” Moon answered, “Yes, I think so.” Finally, when Hong again asked, “Are you against homosexuality?” Moon replied, “Yes.”
Moon’s comments about homosexuality revealed that Moon opposed any discrimination against sexual minorities, but still he did not approve of homosexuality. The comment triggered criticism, for it was made during a public debate by a strong presidential candidate, who was a former human rights lawyer.
Sim Sang-jeung, the presidential candidate of the Justice Party expressed strong regret during the debate. Sim said, “Homosexuality is not an issue we can be in favor of or against. Sexual identity is literally an issue of sexual identity.” “I am heterosexual, but I believe the rights and freedom of sexual minorities should be respected,” she added. She further said, “I am very disappointed at Moon, who has retreated from the Anti-Discrimination Act he had been promoted since the Roh Moo-hyun government.”
Hong Sung-soo, a professor at Sookmyung Women’s University, also wrote on Facebook, “If it were Europe, his statement would be regarded as a hateful comment and be subject to punishment.” He added, “I am really very disappointed and angry.”
Later in the debate, when Hong again asked Moon about homosexuality, Moon said, “I have no intention to legalize same-sex marriage. But I oppose discrimination.”

원문보기:
http://english.khan.co.kr/khan_art_view.html?artid=201704261600517&code=710100#csidx7c5d05a9d173a249ed9045d76942079

 

 

Original article from: http://bit.ly/2ovww2j

What Happened to the Rookie Producer of Drinking Solo? “Excessive Work Load and Personal Insult Led to His Death” (Kyunghyang)

TV show that shares challenges and sorrows of young people preparing for a (barely) secure job, and one who produced it killed himself suffering cruel working environment and labor exploitation.

#work_to_death, #labor_exploitation, #tvN_Drinking_Solo #South_Korea

At a press conference at the Francisco Hall in Jeong-dong, Seoul on April 18, Kim Hye-yeong, the mother of the late producer Lee Han-bit cries as she calls for an investigation into the death of her son. Jeong Ji-yun

At a press conference at the Francisco Hall in Jeong-dong, Seoul on April 18, Kim Hye-yeong, the mother of the late producer Lee Han-bit cries as she calls for an investigation into the death of her son. Jeong Ji-yun

The death of a rookie producer of the tvN drama Drinking Solo may have been the result of an excessive work load, personal insults, and the authoritarian culture in the company. The Youth Union and the bereaved family members formed a “committee to resolve the death of the rookie assistant producer of Drinking Solo.” The committee held a press conference on April 18 and demanded that the broadcasting company release the investigation results of the suicide of Lee Han-bit, who died last year, along with an apology and measures to prevent recurrence.
On October 26, 2016, Lee Han-bit (27 at the time), a rookie producer at tvN, a cable channel owned by CJ E&M, was found dead five days after he had gone missing. Lee joined the company in January 2016 and was assigned to the production of Drinking Solo in April. Drinking Solo is a TV drama about the challenges and sorrows of young people preparing for the civil service examination in Noryangjin, Seoul.
At the time, the company said that Lee died due to personal issues. However, when the committee analyzed the conversations on Lee’s KakaoTalk account and his phone calls and interviewed the employees of the partner companies related to the show, the results pointed in another direction.
The committee argued that Lee suffered from work-related stress that was too intense to bear for a rookie assistant producer. The contractor in charge of lighting and photography for Drinking Solo was replaced just before the show’s first episode was to air. This reduced the production period by two weeks. The committee said, “This caused the working environment of the production team to deteriorate profoundly.”
Lee had to oversee various tasks including costumes and props, and he had to organize the set and settle the account. According to his phone records, he was able to take a break for only two days from August 27, 2016 when the shooting resumed until October 20, the day before he was reported missing. During that period, he had made 1,547 calls and is estimated to have slept an average of 4-5 hours a day. Lee also struggled after he was in charge of laying off temporary staff. In his suicide note, he wrote, “The words ‘labor exploitation,’ which the staff mentioned half jokingly, dug into my heart. To them, I’m nothing more than a manager who squeezes out the workers.” The verbal abuse within the production team was also serious. The recordings and KakaoTalk conversations Lee left behind show that the others frequently slandered and spoke profanity towards Lee when having a company dinner or talking in the group chat room.
In the two responses that CJ E&M sent to the committee last December and January, the company said, “There was no abuse or insult of Lee.” In fact, the company went on to state, “According to an internal investigation, the company suffered damages due to Lee’s poor conduct.” The committee refuted, “CJ E&M is driving this issue into a problem of Lee’s personal attitude just based on the statements by the senior producer and the main producer.”
This day, CJ E&M announced, “We express our deepest condolences to the family in pain. If the police or other public authority launches an investigation, we will willingly cooperate.”
Article from:  http://english.khan.co.kr/khan_art_view.html?artid=201704191802387&code=710100#csidx9be276affbb4483ab7395a63b73b6a0

“Miracle Cancer Drug” Gleevec Sales Threatened Following Novartis Rebate Scandal (the Korea Bizwire)

Health Right Network Korea, asserted that MoH immediately suspend reimbursement of the drug, condemning Novartis’ continued illegal kickback to the doctors. Patent on Gleevec expired on 2013, and various generic form are available with much lower price. We, in solidarity with Health Right Network Korea, believe that strict and fir punitive measure for pharmaceutical company’s illegality is necessary, to secure people’s health right in Korea.

(Look at the Statement on http://bit.ly/2p7lZa6)

#Gleevec #Novartis #Rebate_Scandal #reimbursement_suspension #Health_Right_Network


Imposing the measure would discourage the prescription and use of Novartis drugs, and greatly reduce the company’s sales in South Korea. (image: Wikimedia)

Imposing the measure would discourage the prescription and use of Novartis drugs, and greatly reduce the company’s sales in South Korea. (image: Wikimedia)

SEOUL, April 10 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s health authorities are considering a suspension of health insurance reimbursement for imatinib, a highly effective leukemia drug sold under the brand name of Gleevec (or Glivec), after its maker Novartis was found to have provided illegal kickbacks to doctors.

The Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company was investigated by prosecutors in February of last year for allegedly providing unlawful rebates to local doctors amounting to 2.59 billion won ($2.62 million). In August, six incumbent and former executives of the company were indicted.

South Korea operates on a two-strike policy for companies providing illicit rebates as a punitive measure. Under the terms of the policy, offending drug companies have insurance reimbursements suspended for their products for a year for first-time violation, and indefinitely if another violation occurs within five years.

Imposing the measure would discourage the prescription and use of Novartis drugs, and greatly reduce the company’s sales in South Korea. But at the same time, it could add a bigger burden to patients willing to continue with the medication, as it would have a high price tag, leaving health authorities in a dilemma.

(image: Novartis)

(image: Novartis)

In fact, representatives from the Korean Leukemia Association petitioned the Ministry of Health and Welfare recently, requesting that it impose a fine on the pharmaceutical company instead of a reimbursement suspension, reported Yonhap News Agency Sunday.

“If the allowances are suspended, patients (using Gleevec) will have to spend an additional 2 million won ($1,749) each month on their medication,” said Ahn Ghi Jong, the head of the KLA. “It is unfair for thousands of patients to suffer from the wrongdoings of Novartis.”

However, those with an opposing view demand that government should stick to its punitive measure, especially since there are other substitute drugs and generic imatinibs for leukemia.

“There are some 30 biosimilar imatinib generics in the market in addition to other new drugs for leukemia treatment. Making exceptions would leave the laws vulnerable to future debate,” said an industry official on condition of anonymity.

Health authorities are leaning towards the latter argument, but they’re still deliberating and gathering more feedback from outside experts. An official from the health ministry said, “The ground rule is to suspend reimbursement, but we are considering whether doing so would have a significant impact on patients.”

By Kevin Lee (kevinlee@koreabizwire.com)

 

Original article from: http://koreabizwire.com/miracle-cancer-drug-gleevec-sales-threatened-following-novartis-rebate-scandal/80054

1 in 4 Koreans suffer mental illness: survey (Koreaherald)

Is policy assuring psychiatric treatment of mental disease enough for the current mental suffering of Koreans like the article says? What about absence of sickness allowance and societal stigma attached to the mental disease?

 


One in 4 South Koreans experience mental disorders more than once in their lifetimes, while just one-tenth of the mentally ill seek professional help, according to government data released Wednesday

The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s survey of 5,102 adults showed that about 25 percent of the respondents had suffered mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia and alcohol addiction, at least once in their lives. About 12 percent had experienced psychiatric illnesses in the past year.

The study noted that an increasing number of people are diagnosed with depression and the disease is more prevalent among women.

(123RF)

About 5 percent of those surveyed had suffered from depression at least once. The proportion is higher among women at 6.9 percent compared to 3 percent for men.

One in 10 female respondents had experienced postpartum depression, the study showed.

As for schizophrenia, about 1.8 percent had the disorder at least once in their life and 0.5 percent within the past year.

The survey also showed that 75 percent of those who had attempted suicide and 68 percent of those who had planned to do so had experienced a metal disorder.

The survey results come after a recent shocking case involving a schizophrenic teenager kidnapping and killing an 8-year-old girl in Incheon. The incident shed light on the country’s failure to cope with the growing prevalence of mental disorders.

Experts suggested the government should create an environment where patients of mental disorders can receive timely care and treatment, without fear of being sent to hospitals against their will.

Professor Hong Jin-pyo of Samsung Medical Center, who participated in the survey, said “the overall prevalence rate of mental illnesses among Koreans is decreasing compared to previous years,” adding that a growing number of psychiatric treatments at clinics may help reduce the rate.

“But compared to developed countries, South Korea still lacks governmental policies to raise awareness and provide treatment for mentally ill people,” Hong said.

The government has been conducting a nationwide in-depth survey into the mental health of Koreans since 2001. The most recent survey, the fourth of its kind, was conducted from July to November 2016.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)

 

Original article from : http://bit.ly/2p7l9Ko

South Korea shows improved welfare, declining happiness [hankyoreh]

Country with unhappy, insecure people unsatisfied with their quality of life and social security?
Survey finds South Korean youth among the unhappiest in the world
+ A quarter of elderly people suffer from shame at being in care facilities
+ Survey finds that to be happy, South Koreans need to have work

#welfare_need_unsatisfied #declining_happiness #OECD #South_Korea

 

Change of welfare levels in South Korea. Data: OECD

OECD data put South Korea at or near the bottom in rankings measuring suicide and fertility rates

South Korea’s overall level of welfare improved slightly over the past five years – which included Park Geun-hye’s four years as president – but perceived happiness among South Koreans fell sharply, a research study shows.

The findings of a comparative study of welfare levels in OECD member countries published on Apr. 5 by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) showed South Korea‘s overall ranking rising two spots from 23 out of 34 countries in 2011 to 21 last year. But in the category of the population’s happiness, it slid from 30 to 33.

For its comparison of welfare levels in OECD countries, KIHASA devised indicators for the five areas of economic vitality, welfare demand, financial sustainability, meeting welfare needs, and people’s happiness. Between 2011 and 2016, South Korea’s scores rose from 0.750 to 0.834 for economic vitality, 0.781 to 0.786 for welfare demand, and 0.775 to 0.879 for financial sustainability. The score for meeting welfare needs remained constant at 0.407. The only one of the five indicators to fall was people‘s happiness, which tumbled from 0.348 to 0.133.

The people’s happiness level is a reflection of factors such as satisfaction with quality of life, transparency of the state, the suicide rate, the total fertility rate, leisure time, and anticipated lifespan from birth. It may be described as showing correspondence between the public’s basic desires and the government response to them.

Among the components of the people’s happiness level, South Korea’s quality of life satisfaction score was 5.8, tying it with Italy in 27. The state transparency level was 26, tying with the Czech Republic at 27. South Korea’s suicide rate of 28.7 per 100,000 people was the highest, while the total fertility rate of 1.21 ranked the lowest. South Korea‘s average of 14.7 hours of leisure time per day ranked it 25, while the anticipated lifespan from birth was 82.2 years, tying for 10 with Israel and Norway.

“While South Korea’s welfare level has risen in terms of its overall ranking, it is failing to keep up with the top-ranking countries in scores that take relative position into account,” KIHASA said. “In particular, there was a serious decline in the people’s happiness rating, which may be seen as a more suitable assessment indicator when defining welfare level through discussions.”

“Future welfare policy will need to focus on improving the individual indicators in the people’s happiness index to increase the public‘s perceptions that they are being served by welfare,” the institute said.

The top five countries examined in terms of overall ranking were all northern European countries: Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Iceland. The bottom-ranking group ranking 30 to 34 included Estonia, Chile, Turkey, Greece, and Mexico.By

 

Park Ki-yong, staff reporter

Original Article from : http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/789612.html

Experts say measures to prevent smoking can also boost the economy(hankyoreh)

#cigarette_regulation #health_inequality #tabacco_tax_for_healthier_society

“…policies designed to regulate tobacco would help redress the health inequality among low income earners.”

“while various South Korean anti-tobacco policies were having an effect, the most effective of these was increasing the price of tobacco.”

Posted on : Mar.28,2017 17:19 KSTModified on : Mar.28,2017 17:19 KST

At the end of last year, cigarette packs sold in South Korea started to feature imaging warning of the dangers of smoking

Symposium participants argue that increased regulation of tobacco benefits public health of smokers and non-smokers

Experts from South Korea and other countries argue that government intervention is needed in the tobacco industry because there is insufficient information about the risks of smoking and because secondhand smoke is harmful.

An international symposium designed to assess smoking prevention policies and to seek directions for development is scheduled to take place at the InterContinental Seoul COEX in Seoul on Mar. 28. Domestic and foreign experts in the areas of tobacco and smoking prevention held a press conference at the same location on Mar. 27 at which they argued that the government needs to regulate tobacco and that such regulation would promote economic development.

“There is inadequate information, since people don’t know much about the risks of smoking, and tobacco consumption has externalities that harm the health not only of smokers but also of others through secondhand smoke. Since this leads to a market failure and cannot be left to the discretion of the market, from an economic standpoint, government intervention is appropriate,” argued Frank Chaloupka, a professor of economics and health policy at the University of Illinois who was the first speaker at the press conference.

“Regulation of tobacco does not have a negative effect on the economy, but it in fact has a positive effect by reducing medical costs, improving productivity and promoting economic development,” Chaloupka added. He also argued that policies designed to regulate tobacco would help redress the health inequality among low income earners.

“Poor and vulnerable members of the population smoke more cigarettes, which worsens the health gap and health inequality. Regulation of tobacco also helps mitigate this,” Chaloupka said. His proposals for South Korea were to keep strengthening tobacco regulations by increasing the price of tobacco and to invest more of the proceeds of the tobacco tax into the areas of preventing smoking and promoting health.

One of the South Korean experts present was Cho Seong-il, chair of the Korean Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, who argued that while various South Korean anti-tobacco policies were having an effect, the most effective of these was increasing the price of tobacco.

“The biggest effect between 2015 and 2016 came from raising tobacco prices, and this accounted for 89% of the whole,” Cho said, referring to the policy’s effect on reducing the smoking rate. “As time goes by, the influence of raising tobacco prices will be seen in other policies.”

During the symposium on Mar. 28, Katia Campos, a technical officer at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region, will use a presentation to highlight the six globally proven methods for regulating tobacco: monitoring the use of tobacco, protecting nonsmokers from tobacco smoke, giving smokers assistance, offering warnings about the risk of smoking, banning tobacco advertising and raising taxes on tobacco.

By Kim Yang-joong, medical correspondent

Article from http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/788348.html

Samsung semiconductor worker is first case of female infertility recognized as industrial accident (Hankyoreh)

“A female worker‘s infertility has been recognized as an industrial accident for the first time in South Korean history.”

“27% of 406 female nurses who had handled such substances as having experienced difficulty conceiving; 22.8% as having experienced premature birth, stillbirth, or miscarriage; and 20.2% of having experienced menstrual irregularities. While the stillbirth and miscarriage rate was 13.9% for female workers enrolled in health insurance through their workplace between 2007 and 2015, an analysis for manufacturing in particular found high rates of 16.6% and 16.2% for timber, lumber products, and furniture manufacturing and for rubber and plastic manufacturing, respectively.”

#Samsung #female_infertility_as_occupational_disease #industrial_accident #Korea

 

Samsung’s semiconductor factory in Giheung, Gyeonggi Province

Data show women who handle toxic chemicals at work more likely to suffer reproductive difficulties, including miscarriages

A female worker‘s infertility has been recognized as an industrial accident for the first time in South Korean history. The decision recognizing the worker’s infertility as an “occupational disease” was significant in coming amid widespread attention to the protection of mothers in response to South Korea’s low birth rate, as well as growing interest in the use of reproduction-toxic substances in workplaces.

The Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service (K-COMWEL) announced on Mar. 19 that it had granted the request of a 39-year-old surnamed Kim to have her infertility recognized as an occupational disease and treatment benefits paid. Kim worked for 15 years in a production position at a Samsung semiconductors factory in Giheung, Gyeonggi Province.

Kim went to work at Samsung in 1997 after graduating high school. She began undergoing treatment for infertility in 2008, when she was 30 years old. She left the company in 2012 due to a missed miscarriage and other ill health, and filed for industrial accident certification in 2013.“While performing shift work for 15 years as a production employee at a semiconductor plant, [Kim] was exposed, albeit in small quantities, to organic compounds such as ethylene glycol,” K-COMWEL wrote in its occupational disease ruling for Kim. “The causal relationship with her duties is recognized, as the weakening of her physical functions, including diminished immune capabilities as a result of overwork and stress related to long-term shift work, led to her infertility.”

Used in semiconductor plants as a cleaning solution, ethylene glycol is classified as a reproduction-toxic substance that causes birth defects. While infertility and miscarriages were cited as potentially subject to compensation in a 2015 recommendation by the Samsung occupational disease mediation committee, they have not been included in the standards of the company‘s independently formed compensation committee.

Reproduction-toxic substances, or substances with harmful effects on reproduction functions and capabilities and embryo generation and development, have been seen as causing far-reaching damages, as they not only affect the individual suffering exposure but can also cause health problems in the next generation. According to Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) data, a 2014 working environment survey counted 33,828 female workers with a high risk of exposure to reproduction-toxic factors at workplaces with five or more employees. The number accounted for 6.78% of the 499,194 total female workers in production positions. By occupation, the highest totals were found in leather, handbag, and shoe manufacturing, followed by electronics, textile manufacturing, and food manufacturing.

A Dec. 2016 report published by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea from a survey on the human rights of workers handling reproduction-toxic substances showed 27% of 406 female nurses who had handled such substances as having experienced difficulty conceiving; 22.8% as having experienced premature birth, stillbirth, or miscarriage; and 20.2% of having experienced menstrual irregularities. While the stillbirth and miscarriage rate was 13.9% for female workers enrolled in health insurance through their workplace between 2007 and 2015, an analysis for manufacturing in particular found high rates of 16.6% and 16.2% for timber, lumber products, and furniture manufacturing and for rubber and plastic manufacturing, respectively.

The semiconductor workers’ health and human rights watchdog group Banollim, which represented Kim in her application, released a statement on Mar. 19 expressing “hope that other workers suffering from the same condition will have the courage to carry on with having it recognized as an industrial accident.”

“Suitable government-level measures must be taken for toxic chemicals and other factors threatening the health and lives of semiconductor workers,” the group said.Kim In-ah, an occupational and environmental medicine professor at the Hanyang University College of Medicine, said, “At a time when the low birth rate is becoming a societal issue, the only way to ensure healthy and safe childbirth is through more proactive management and oversight of reproduction-toxic substances.”

“We need active government regulation to prevent female workers who are pregnant or of childbearing age from handling reproduction-toxic substances,”

Kim said.By Park Tae-woo, staff reporter

 

Original Article: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_business/787230.html