South Korea would play vital role in New Kuwait 2035

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South Korean PM affirms deep-rooted ties with Kuwait

Korean Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-cheol

KUWAIT CITY, May 4, (KUNA): The expertise and experiences of South Korea in the establishment of the healthcare system and preventive health management policy will be helpful in the New Kuwait 2035, a Korean health official said on Thursday.

Speaking to KUNA, Korean Vice-Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said that his country would play a role by sharing experiences and cases in IT-based medicine and the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The HIS of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) was established in six general hospitals, 70 primary healthcare centers in 2016, and Royal Commission Health Service Program (RCHSP) in Saudi Arabia in 2017, he explained. The IT-based HIS reduces waiting time for patients and helps effectively manage drug and clinical information and hospital finance, he noted.

Korea established the National Health Insurance Information System (NHIIS) and Drug Utilization Review (DUR) to connect all clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies with the health insurance information of all citizens, he added. In addition, the IT-based HIS of Korean hospitals accounted for the 6th largest share in the global HIS market, which demonstrates that the stability and effectiveness of the system is receiving recognition.

Moreover, preventive health management policy has been adopted so that people can recognize the importance of taking care of their health and actively manage health risk factors including drinking, smoking, and obesity, he said.

On cancer treatment, the Korean official said that his country has advanced clinical technologies in this field, as well as in organ transplantation.

The five-year survival rates of major cancers such as colorectal and gastric cancer and organ transplantation, including heart and pancreas, stand at a world-class level, he confirmed. “For this reason, 20 percent of inbound patients to Korea, 90,000 patients received internal medicine treatment, including cancer and organ transplantation in 2018,” he said. Furthermore, an increasing number of foreign patients visited specialized departments, including plastic surgery, infertility, Korean Traditional Medicine, and medical checkups, not to mention treatment for serious diseases, he added. Korea and Kuwait signed the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Healthcare and Medical Sciences in 2015, he said, adding that based on the MoU, the two countries started to accelerate cooperation.

In 2016, the Kuwaiti health ministry and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), a Korean public agency in the field of healthcare, signed the Implementation Plan for Korean Medical Training Program, he noted. “Even though there is no additional agreement signed during this visit, I hope that the scope of healthcare cooperation will be wider across areas including the hospital information system (HIS) and medical devices and pharmaceuticals,” he said.

Around 380,000 international patients from 190 countries visited Korea for treatment in 2018, he said, “among them, 7,000 patients came from the Middle East, and 242 from Kuwait,” he added. An increasing number of Korean medical institutions enter Middle Eastern countries including Kuwait, he said, adding “Ahnkang Hospital (Spine pain treatment hospital in Kuwait) opened in 2013.”

As for the cost of treatment, he said that it varies by departments; it is hard to compare the cost per country. Nevertheless, the cost of treating serious diseases, including cancer and diabetes and medical checkups, is relatively low in Korea compared to that of Germany and the United States, he noted. For this reason, international patients to Korea visit internal medicine and medical check-ups the most.

The level and quality of Korean medical services are high despite the relatively low costs, he said, stressing that Korea has skilled medical personnel and advanced clinical technology. “For instance, over 80,000 specialists are working in Korea, achieving excellent treatment progress in cancer and organ transplantation,” he added. He pointed out to ‘The Medical Korea 2019’; a global healthcare and medical tourism conference, which highlights the latest trends in the global medical industry, and was held in March this year.

“With 2,300 healthcare experts from 47 countries, the Medical Korea 2019 opened a venue for 60 lectures and discussions on global healthcare,” he pointed out. In line with the event, the Korea International Medical and Hospital Equipment Show (KIMES), G2G meetings with 11 governments, and hospital fam tour (familiarization tour) were held, thereby enhancing healthcare cooperation between countries and serving as a venue for exchanges among healthcare academia, industry, and the private sector, he said. The Medical Korea 2020 will be held from March 19 to 21, 2020, he noted.

Meanwhile, visiting South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nakyeon stressed on Thursday the depth of relations between his country and Kuwait on all levels, mainly in the economic field. In a speech he delivered during the opening of the Korea-Kuwait Economic Forum held at Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Lee said the Kuwaiti- Korean diplomatic relations began 40 years ago, adding Kuwait’s oil helped Korea since the beginning of bilateral ties.

Remittance of Korean workers from Kuwait in the 1980s constituted a cornerstone of Korea’s economy, he said, noting that his country sent medical staff to Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion and provided USD millions to support the liberation of Kuwait. He pointed to keenness of both Kuwait and S. Korea to develop common ties towards a better future, saying that he found a wonderful prosperity in Kuwait during this visit.

Kuwait’s Vision 2035 goal of turning the country into a financial and economic hub is similar to Korea’s plan, the Korean premier said, hoping that the two countries would achieve their goals. Korea will collaborate with Kuwait to implement Kuwait Vision 2035 in medical and technology sectors and others, he said. Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Causeway which was inaugurated yesterday (Wednesday) is a signal of a bright future, he said, hoping that the bridge would open a new era of cooperation to make Kuwait a hub for transport in the Middle East. He pointed to achievements made through cooperation between the two sides, noting that Kuwait and Korea are one of the first countries in the world that use photovoltaic technology. He stressed that the two countries can invest this sector in the global markets.

Meanwhile, Chairman of KCCI Ali Al-Ghanim said that Kuwait was the first country in the region to seek the help of Korean companies and workers to contribute to the country’s progress and renaissance as well as carry out several infrastructure projects here. Al-Ghanim pointed to Korea’s firm support to Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion in 1990 and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s visit to Seoul in mid-July in 2004, when he served as Prime Minister, saying that they were the two most key events in terms of the bilateral cooperation. Of the most important results of this visit were a deal on encouraging and protecting investment, a memorandum of understanding in environment and others, Al-Ghanim said.

There are 17 Korean companies carrying out projects, worth USD 30 billion, in Kuwait, he said, indicating that Kuwait is investing about USD 900 million in South Korea in oil, banking and financial fields. On Wednesday, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah held talks with his Korean counterpart on means of promoting cooperation in all fields to serve the two countries and their nations’ interests. They also reviewed regional and international issues of common concern. Trade volume between Kuwait and South Korea reached USD 14 billion in 2018, USD 12.7 billion for Kuwaiti exports and USD 1.3 for South Korean exports, up 33 percent compared with 2017.

By Mohammad Al-Kanderi

This news has been read 11243 times!

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