10/17/2018, 16.35
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South Korea has most hospital beds, medical equipment but fewer doctors

The country has 12 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants, second only to Japan. Despite the abundance of medical equipment, it only had 2.3 doctors per 1,000 people in 2016 and only 7.9 graduates in medicine for every 100,000 people.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The overall number of hospital beds and medical equipment in South Korea exceeds that of other major economies, but in terms of doctors the country was among the lowest.

The data provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Health Insurance Service show that South Korea had an average of 12 beds per every 1,000 people in 2016, second only to Japan, compared with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 4.7. In Europe, Germany leads with 8.1 beds whilst Italy has 3.2.

South Korea’s medical institutions owned more instruments, such as computerised tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, than any other OCDE member state other than Japan.

The data showed that, in South Korea, the number of MRI and CT scanners per 1 million population came to 27.8 and 37.8, respectively, compared with the OECD average of 16.4 and 26.1, respectively. The European averages are 15.4 and 21.4 (25.2 and 33.1 in Italy).

Despite the abundance of medical equipment, South Korea had only 2.3 doctors per 1,000 people in 2016, well below the OECD average of 3.4. The data also include licensed physicians who practice oriental medicine.

According to the data, Turkey scored the lowest in physician density with 1.8 per 1,000 population. Greece ranked first with 6.6 doctors per 1,000 people, followed by Austria with 5.1, Portugal with 4.8, and Norway with 4.5. At 3.9 Italy is just above the European average.

South Korea still lacks an adequate medical workforce, mainly due to the low number of medical graduates. In 2016, an average of 7.9 per 100,000 graduated, compared with an OECD average of 12. Ireland led with 24.4 graduates, while Italy was just 0.3 above the OECD average of 12.

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