Category: Global Health

Doctor’s plea: ‘Don’t crack down on foreign TB patients'(TheKoreaTimes)

* Korea has the highest incidence rate of TB among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2014, South Korea marked a TB incidence rate of 86 patients per 100,000, seven times higher than the average rate of the developed nations.

* A reporter and the doctor’s narrative being racist enough, but the doctor from  Korean Institute of Tuberculosis’ program claims that treatment of foreign TB patient is necessary and desirable.

#Foreign_patient #Tuberculosis #Korea

Image result for korea tb foreigners

Original Article from:
Over 2,000 foreigners are taking advantage of free tuberculosis (TB) treatment, eating away at taxpayers’ money, but cracking down on them is not the answer, a doctor has told The Korea Times.

“If you pursue those freeloaders, they would go underground and run the higher risk of spreading the disease,” Oh Kyung-hyun, head of the state-run Korean Institute of Tuberculosis’ program cooperation department, said. “So treating them at our expense is better for our national health.”

TB is a contagious disease, the treatment of which is 100 percent covered by the government, even if the person does not subscribe to national health insurance.

Korea has the highest rate of TB among the rich OECD member nations.

Foreigners accounted for 6 percent of patients in 2017, 0.5 percent down from the previous year, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). They include long-term resident foreigners who pay medical insurance and those on short-term visas who don’t.

The ratio has risen from 2.4 percent in 2011 to 6.54 percent in 2016.

The bulk of newly diagnosed patients are older people, who accounted for 41.9 percent last year, up 2 percent from the previous year.

The KCDC said it is establishing a new TB control plan for 2018 to 2022, targeting vulnerable groups including foreigners and the elderly.

Under the current policy, foreigners on tourist visas do not need to submit a medical certificate to enter the country. They can get free TB treatment in national hospitals.

Those who visit the country for more than 90 days need to pay health insurance for three months period in advance.

“The issue of foreigners getting free treatment needs to be dealt with at a bilateral level between the Korean government and other countries, where the patients come from,” the doctor said.



South Korea scores symbolic victories in negotiations over KORUS FTA(Hankyoreh)

What does US’s victory about pharmaceutical pricing system mean to Korean people and healthcare system?

Does idea of “free-trade” more important than efficient purchasing of single-payer system to assure medicine access to all?


“Another major victory for the US is the agreement to hold additional negotiations to revise South Korea’s pharmaceutical pricing system for innovative medicine from around the world. American pharmaceutical firms have repeatedly complained that the price of medicine is set too low by South Korea’s national health insurance.”


#KORUS-FTA #pharmaceutical_pricing #newdrug #medicine #Free_Trade


Original Article from:



US receives concessions on automobile import restrictions and prescription drug pricing

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong takes a drink of water during a briefing to discuss the results of the KORUS FTA revision agreements at the Central Government Complex in Seoul on Mar. 26. (by Baek So-ah, staff photographer)

While presenting results of the negotiations to revise the South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) at the Central Government Complex in Seoul on Mar. 26, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said that South Korean negotiators had protected the nation’s interests. “We participated in the negotiations more with the aim of defending the national interest than of protecting the KORUS FTA. We gave ground where appropriate while securing our interests [in the agreement],” Kim told reporters.


South Korea had found itself at a disadvantage in the negotiations because of the major divide between the two countries from the outset of the negotiations, which was compounded by American tariffs on steel. Despite these circumstances, Kim said, the negotiators managed to protect the South Korean market as best they could.


As Kim said, balancing the two sides’ interests was not an easy proposition in the negotiations, which were launched because of the US’s unilateral demand for and objective of “resolving the trade imbalance.” But a close look at the final tally of the negotiations also suggests that South Korea won the symbolic victories, while the US pocketed the practical benefits. South Korea received assurances about securing import quotas for steel and institutional and procedural improvements for investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) and trade remedies. The US, on the other hand, received concessions that will have an immediate effect, such as easing import restrictions on automobiles and improving the pricing system for new drugs.


South Korea is the first country exporting steel to the US to secure a steel import quota (70%, or 2.68 million tons, of average yearly exports between 2015 and 2017). While accepting some of the US’s demands about American automobiles and pharmaceuticals, South Korea basically managed to arrange the first deal on steel. But a senior official from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, “We initially wanted to secure a tariff-rate quota that would give us a steel quota and allow us to export the volume above that the quota to the American market with a tariff of 25%, but that didn’t work out.” The volume of steel exports will fall to 70% of the volume of previous years, and no more exports will be allowed after the quota has been reached. “This resolved the instability and the unpredictability faced by exporting companies,” Kim said when asked about the swift settlement of the steel issue.


One view is that the pros and cons of the steel import quota, which is limited to 70% of the average imports over the past three years, must be compared with the alternative scenario in which the tariffs take effect.“The South Korean steel industry preferred the quotas to the tariffs. If the countries exempted from the tariffs and the exempted categories increase in the future, President Trump is likely to raise the tariffs higher than 25% in order to achieve his import reduction goals. In that situation, we would have been forced to quickly get off the list of countries facing thethe tariffs. We can only export 70% of the previous volume, but if the price of steel in the US rises because of the imposition of tariffs, the value of South Korean steel makers’ exports might actually increase,” a spokesperson for the Ministry said.


The decision to relax environmental and safety standards for automobiles that the US has repeatedly described as non-tariff barriers to trade came as no surprise. South Korea agreed to increase the number of American automobiles that can be imported even if they do not satisfy South Korean safety standards (about the color of turn signals, for example) as long as they satisfy American standards from the current level of 25,000 vehicles per company to 50,000 vehicles.“While we increased the number to 50,000, the actual number of vehicles imported each year by the US’s three big automakers is below 10,000, so [50,000] has no effect on the actual import volume,” Kim said. But others argue that South Korea gave major concessions on automobiles in order to reach an agreement on steel. When calculating South Korea’s costs, it is also necessary to include the government’s and various industries’ sharp increase in imports of American products and their expansion of investment in the US, which were aimed at highlighting the FTA’s benefits.


20 year extension on tariffs for Korean pickup trucks


Furthermore, the timeframe for repealing the 25% tariff on Korean pickup trucks was extended by 20 years, from 10 years after the KORUS FTA took effect (that is, 2021) until 2041. “At the moment, basically no pickup trucks are being exported to the US,” Kim noted.But in Kim’s book Talking about the KORUS-FTA, when he played up the importance of ending the tariff on pickups. “We aren’t currently manufacturing pickup trucks, but we will be in the future. The important thing is that [the US’s] high tariff of 25% on pickup trucks must be lowered so that we can attract investment,” he wrote. In effect, the extension of the timeframe greatly reduces the likelihood of South Korean companies breaking into the growing US pickup truck market.


Another major victory for the US is the agreement to hold additional negotiations to revise South Korea’s pharmaceutical pricing system for innovative medicine from around the world. American pharmaceutical firms have repeatedly complained that the price of medicine is set too low by South Korea’s national health insurance.


Among South Korea’s gains, one of the more notable is the improvement of the system for settling investor-state disputes. The two sides agreed to include in the revised agreement a provision to prevent investors who have invested capital in the other country from filing frivolous disputes and to ensure that the two governments’ due sovereignty over policy is not infringed.


There will also be the addition of a section to ensure procedural transparency, such as releasing documents from local anti-dumping investigations, when either side initiates trade remedies (that is, import restrictions). This measure is designed to provide a way of dodging or blunting trade pressure from the US. But Kim said, “The results of the negotiations do not allow us to say categorically that the US trade risk has markedly decreased, and trade pressure is likely to continue for the rest of Trump’s time in office.”


The specifics of the revisions of the ISDS and trade remedy systems will be made public when the revised agreement is officially signed, following additional deliberations with the US.

By Cho Kye-wan, staff reporter

The 30th Anniversary of APH International Symposium

APH symposium


The Korean Association of Physicians for Humanism announced that they will be holding international Symposium for their 30th Anniversary. The symposium focuses on the inequalities of health inequalities and the role of physicians in the era of inequality and invites doctors in action from Japan, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines to share their experiences.

In the second part of the lecture, Michael Marmot, the renowned researcher on health inequality, and former president of the World Physicians Association will give a lecture on the social determinants of health.

The event will be held in Sejong Center, 21th November.

Global institutions call South Korea a “climate villain”(hankyoreh)

#climate_change #Korea #ICCA #climate_vilain

Support for coal-fired power plants and abandonment of emission reduction targets cited as reasons for low assessment

South Korea has been named a leading “climate villain” for 2016 by institutions researching a response to global climate change.“Climate villains” is a term referring to countries that have been most irresponsible and negligent about responding to climate change.The Institute for Climate Change Action (ICCA), headed by Ahn Byeong-ok, announced on Nov. 6 that South Korea had been named alongside Saudi Arabia, Australia, and New Zealand as one of the world‘s four biggest climate villains on Nov. 4 by the climate change online news outlet Climate Home based on analytical findings from Climate Action Tracker (CAT). CAT is a consortium of independent research institutions jointly founded in 2009 by the three international climate change research agencies Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and NewClimate Institute. Every year, it tracks reduction activities in 32 major countries responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and publishes analytical findings.Reasons given for South Korea’s inclusion as a climate villain included the steep rate of increase in its per capita greenhouse gas emissions, its financial support for coal-fired power plant exports, and its abandonment of greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020.“This isn’t the first time South Korea’s climate change response capabilities have been rated among the world‘s lowest,” said ICCA. “The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) for 2016 published on Dec. 8 of last year by the private institute German Watch and CAN Europe showed it ranking 54th among the 58 countries surveyed. It had fallen 23 spots in just five years, solidifying its image in the international community as a ’rogue climate state.‘”It’s an image that “is very likely to hurt national prestige and bring about monitoring and controls by the international community that are going to create difficulties in terms of foreign affairs and the economy,” ICCA added.“To overcome this situation and respond to the new climate regime, we‘re going to need to return climate change policy to its rightful place after all the backsliding under the Park Geun-hye administration,” it said.By Kim Jeong-soo, senior staff writer




Article from

Campaign against medicine monopolies

“UNAIDS reports that only a third of the people in the Asia and Pacific region who need HIV treatment currently have access. If RCEP countries agree to elevated IP protection in RCEP, this figure could likely increase.”

“We call on all negotiating governments to reject all TRIPS plus measures in the RCEP. In particular we call upon wealthier countries such as South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to resist pressing for IP provisions that threaten access to medicines for the world’s poor.”

sign here to support the campaign

What the gov’t won’t say about the electromagnetic waves emitted by THAAD (hankyoreh)

[Analysis] What the gov’t won’t say about the electromagnetic waves emitted by THAAD

#THAAD #health_risk #safety #Korea

For now, the government is claiming that the waves pose no health risk to residents, but further examination is needed

RF electromagnetic radiation can cause serious burns and internal injury).

Following the South Korean government’s sudden announcement earlier this month of the deployment site for the US military’s THAAD missile defense system, there has been a fierce debate about the electromagnetic waves emitted by the THAAD radar.While the government has used a variety of strategies in a public relations campaign designed to convince residents of Seongju County that the electromagnetic waves are of no concern, this does not appear to be much consolation for the people who will have the radar base in their backyards.Electromagnetic waves move at the speed of light during the regular oscillation of electric fields and magnetic fields. The word “electromagnetic wave” has probably reminded many people of the harmful ELF (extremely low frequency) electromagnetic waves that are produced by power lines and household appliances such as electric blankets and televisions. But electromagnetic waves are in fact an extensive category including the various frequencies used in broadcasting and telecommunications and even sunlight.THAAD’s eye is the AN/TPY-2(TM) radar, which identifies targets by shooting a beam of electromagnetic waves into the area under observation and detecting any waves that bounce back.These electromagnetic waves are X-band microwaves with a frequency of 8 to 12 GHz (gigahertz) and a wavelength of 2.5 to 3.75 cm. The X-band falls between the C-band (4-8 GHz) and the Ku-band (12-18 GHz), as defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).The X-band is used around the world not only by military radars but also by radars on civilian vessels, radars for meteorological observations, the radar guns that police point at speeding cars and ham radio operators. Experts are reluctant to answer questions about safetyThe microwaves created in the THAAD radar’s electromagnetic wave generator pass through an amplifier and are then released toward the target area through the antenna. While data has not been made public about the output of the antenna that determines the strength of the radar’s electromagnetic waves, it must be very strong, given THAAD’s detection range.The US army’s instruction manual for the AN/TPY-2(FBM) states that the radar’s range for detecting an enemy missile prior to the intermediate stage of its trajectory is at least 1,000km. The AN/TPY-2(FBM) and the AN/TPY-2(TM) radars have the same hardware, and only their software is different, the manual explains.

A Ministry of National Defense cartoon explaining the THAAD missile defense system

The South Korean government has established and regulates human exposure levels in regard to microwaves and other electromagnetic waves.The US army’s instruction manual for the AN/TPY-2(FBM) radar states that radiation from the electromagnetic waves emitted from the radar antenna can cause severe burns and internal injuries, and the army has declared 100 meters in front of the THAAD radar deployed in Guam to be off-limits.The general sense that the microwaves emitted by the radar could be harmful to the human body is not being debated. The question is what effect will be had on Seongju residents by the electromagnetic waves that will be emitted at a specific strength from the top of one particular hill.As of July 24, the Hankyoreh had managed to get in touch with five of the seven experts who co-authored the book “Radar Engineering and the Use of Electronic Warfare” (published by the Korean Institute of Electromagnetic Engineering and Science), and all five of these experts answered this question by noting that there was not enough information to make a judgment.While none of the experts said the radar would have an effect and some of them predicted that it would not have an effect, all of them avoided categorical language.“We only know that the radar uses the X-band without knowing anything about the pattern of the antenna or about its output capacity. That’s why no scientist can speak with confidence,” said Myeong Ro-hun, a professor of electrical and electronic engineering at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).“If the measurement and simulation values from the place where [the radio] is actually being operated are correct, we have to trust the values of the simulation that they performed with those materials in the South Korean terrain. If the resulting values are lower than international accepted levels, we ought to conclude that it‘s safe,” said Park Dong-cheol, a professor of electrical engineering and information technology at Chungnam National University. The results of such an analysis have never been made public.These experts all held the view that the effect the electromagnetic waves will have on the area near the radar can vary substantially with the antenna output, the radiation pattern and the angle of orientation.This caveat means that the South Korean Defense Ministry’s measurement of the electromagnetic waves emitted from the THAAD radar on Guam – which were supposedly just 0.007% of the 10w/ square meter maximum tolerated for the human body – should not be treated as very significant. No information was released or reviewed about the output or angle of the electromagnetic beam that the radar was emitting at the time of measurement.The effect of electromagnetic waves on the human body is a question that is even more difficult to answer. In order to properly assess the effect on the human body, it would be necessary to consider a variety of levels of exposure and the various qualities of the subjects being exposed. Even electromagnetic waves that would have a negligible effect on the average individual could be dangerous for embryos or fetuses that are undergoing cellular division in the reproductive system or the womb. But scientists are only now learning about the effect that electromagnetic waves from mobile phones have on the brain and other organs.The two main pieces of evidence that the Defense Ministry has offered to support its categorical statement that the THAAD radar that will be deployed at Seongju will not have an effect on the locals are either incorrect or disregard half of the facts.The Ministry has stated that the difference in elevation between the planned radar installation and the Seongju downtown area is 400 meters. Since the radar will be shooting waves into the sky from such a high place, the Ministry has said, there is no reason to worry.But in fact, the actual elevation of the hill that the radar is supposed to be installed on is 383.4 meters in elevation above sea level. The Ministry‘s claims would suggest that the Seongju downtown would be underwater. Considering that Seongju downtown is located at an elevation of 44.5 meters, the actual difference in elevation because the two points is 61 meters less than the Ministry claimed. Electromagnetic waves also affect surrounding areaAnother important piece of evidence offered by the Ministry of National Defense in claiming the electromagnetic waves will have no impact is the strongly straight-line nature of the radar waves. The argument is that residents should not worry even if the waves from the radar are passing directly overhead, since they would merely move straight forward without scattering. But a property of waves emitted by an antenna is that they radiate to the surrounding area before moving straight ahead. Even a directional radar antenna designed to only send waves in the target direction will inevitably radiate some electromagnetic waves to additional minor lobes such as side lobes and back lobes rather than in the intended direction (the main lobe).“Because the level is small, a decision should be made on whether it’s a meaningful level, but there are always side lobes and back lobes, and it‘s impossible to get rid of them 100%,” said Park Dong-cheol. “Engineers can only work on reducing it once it approaches permissible levels.”With the government offering only half an explanation – emphasizing the straight-line nature of the electromagnetic waves while ignoring their radiation properties – the residents’ continued apprehensions appear natural.In response to the continued controversy over the THAAD radar waves‘ safety, the Ministry of National Defense pledged to relocate the radar and conduct an after-the-fact environment impact assessment once it is in place. The after-the-fact procedure is part of a formal environmental impact assessment according to the Environment Impact Assessment Act that is not conducted in smaller-scale assessments. Ordinary assessments also require the collecting of resident opinions. The question for many now is how the ministry plans to honor its own assessment pledge.By Kim Jeong-soo, senior staff writer

Aid groups voice criticism of government’s new overseas aid plan(Hankyoreh)

#Korea_Aid #Park_Guen_hye #ODA_Watch

New model for developmental aid for Africa is a food truck filled with Bibimbab?????? Seriously?

President Park Geun-hye and Kenyan first lady Margaret Kenyatta talk to the cooks at a Korea Aid test event in Nairobi, May 31. (Yonhap News)

The Korea Aid program, heavily publicized by the government as a “new South Korean model of official development assistance (ODA)” with President Park Geun-hye’s recent Africa visit, is running into fierce objections from groups involved in international development assistance efforts.While Seoul has cited the project as one of the top three results of Park’s visit, the groups are calling for an immediate end to what they have called “a mere show to promote South Korea rather than real aid.”An investigation by the Hankyoreh on June 3 showed that Korea Aid was not included in the administration’s general implementation plan for 2016-17 international development assistance as recently as May. Many critics are now saying the project was instead clapped together in time for Park’s tour.The basis for the Korea Aid program was reported to be an idea that Park herself presented earlier this year.A joint press release on May 25 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) promoted Korea Aid as a “mobile development assistance project using vehicles for public health, food, and culture” as part of an effort to “increase development assistance in Africa, which has many of [the world’s] poorest countries and poorest populations.”The administration described Korea Aid as a “new South Korean development assistance model” combining development assistance with public health, food, and culture elements included alongside visiting services.Seoul previously attempted a test run of Korea Aid in which ten vehicles were sent to each of the three countries visited by Park: Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya. The vehicles included three related to public health (one check-up vehicle and two ambulances), four for food (three food trucks and one refrigerated truck), one video truck for culture, and two support vehicles. Food primarily consisted of bibimbap(mixed rice and vegetables) and other rice dishes, while videos for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, K-Pop, and breakdancing were shown by culture vehicles and fetal imaging and health kits were provided for public health.At a special talk before the African Union on May 27, Park described Korea Aid as “a new model of development assistance that allows us to connect and communicate with Africa’s people through our hearts.” She also visited to observe the project’s first implementation on the ground in the three countries. The administration said it plans to have a test run once a month until the second half of 2017, when all vehicles are to be provided to the three countries.But civic groups attacked what they called as “embarrassing one-time event and a disgrace to South Korean aid that ignores the purpose of aid and international terms.” The project was also called a “step backward in the history of South Korea’s international development assistance.” The group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) demanded an “immediate end,” while ODA Watch called for the project’s “full-scale reconsideration.” Critics raised a number of questions about Korea Aid’s components, including how providing meals once a month could lower death rates, what use a single ambulance is likely to be, and why development assistance money rather than the government’s promotional budget is being used to promote the Pyeongchang Olympics and K-Pop.Two particular problems were singled out. First is the clear step backward from South Korea’s previous efforts to set up an organized development assistance system following international norms on aid since its 2010 joining of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) marked its transformation from aid recipient to aid donor. The OECD’s basic principles on international development assistance are laid out in its 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which states that mutual accountability and transparency between aid donors and recipients are necessary for the success of cooperation. According to the declaration, aid should be based on the recipient country’s development strategy and be designed to promote its policy initiative and ownership, with transparency a necessary element to ensure and strengthen public support.On that basis, South Korea and other countries and groups involved in aid have strived to improve the principles behind their activities to go beyond “events” and hardware-centered efforts such as building construction and item donations to focus on bolstering “software” within the recipient country’s systems and personnel capabilities.A second criticism is that the Korea Aid “event” was slapped together without undergoing systematic examination. During a confirmation of the 2017 implementation plan for international development assistance at the 26th meeting of the International Development Assistance Committee on May 30, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said plans had been established to “effectively bolster Korea Aid and other major projects.”But Korea Aid was not included on an agenda circulated to the committee’s non-government members in early May.

“Over half of Koreans negative about migrant workers” (Korea Herald)

“Over half of Koreans negative about migrant workers” (Korea Herald)

‪#‎Korea‬, ‪#‎migrant‬, ‪#‎migrant_worker‬, ‪#‎globalization‬

Over half of Koreans negative about migrant workers

More than half of Koreans have a negative attitude towards foreign workers residing here, a recent survey showed.

In a survey by local pollster Gallup Korea, 54 percent of respondents said that the migration of foreign workers to Korea is “not a good thing.” The study was conducted on 1,500 Koreans aged 19 and above.

Thirty-nine percent said that it is a “good thing,” which is significantly lower than the 57 percent average across the 69 countries that participated in this global survey. The remaining 7 percent could not decide on the matter.

The survey, carried out from October to November last year, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

South Koreans’ perception of migrant workers appears to have turned sour compared to 20 years ago, the pollster said. In a similar survey conducted in 1994, 50 percent of respondents were favorable towards foreign workers.

According to Statistics Korea, the foreign population working in Korea stood at 938,000 as of last May, with the number having increased every year since 2010.

Among the 69 countries surveyed, China was the most positive about the issue with 81 percent answering in favor of migrant workers. Thailand was the most negative, with 78 percent in disapproval.

By Ock Hyun-ju (