Presidential office calls for designation of dialogue partner better representing medical community

The presidential office called Wednesday for the designation of a dialogue partner who can better represent the diverse voices within the medical community as thousands of trainee doctors remained off the job in protest of the government's plan to increase admissions to medical schools. A senior presidential official told reporters the government has repeatedly asked the medical community to come up with an alternative to the Korean Medical Association (KMA), a major lobby group of senior doctors, to speak on their behalf. "The KMA claims it represents the medical community, but when we contact them and listen to what they have to say, it's hard to say they have a representative nature," the official said. "In order for government dialogue to be effective, we have to talk with a representative body or member, but it's very difficult if each (group) contacts us individually," the official added, citing slightly different positions among large hospitals, small hospitals, trainee doctors, medical school stud ents and senior doctors. The official also dismissed a counterproposal by an association of deans of 40 medical schools across the country to increase the medical school enrollment quota by 350, not 2,000 as proposed by the government. "Workforce issues related to the health and medical sector are an issue the government should be responsible for and decide under the Constitution or the law," the official said. Source: Yonhap News Agency