Mother-and-Childcare Clinics Are Disappearing from Korea

      June 06, 2023 08:18

      The number of clinics across the country increased 24 percent over the last 10 years, but pediatric and obstetrics and gynecology clinics dwindled as doctors are shunning the field amid the low birthrate.
      According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, there are now 35,225 clinics in Korea, up 24.3 percent over the last decade. They increased in most medical fields, but ob-gyn clinics dwindled 5.6 percent to 1,319, while pediatric clinics declined 2.4 percent to 2,147.
      The biggest decline in ob-gyn clinics was in mostly rural South Jeolla Province, which is seeing a flight of younger people to the cities, with 25 percent, followed by Daejeon with 23.1 percent.
      Gwangju saw a 27.6 percent drop in pediatric clinics and Ulsan a 20 percent decline.
      People wait to see a doctor in a clinic in Seoul on May 25.
      The biggest reason is the low birthrate. According to HIRA, the number of patients going to pediatric clinics fell 24.6 percent from 2017 to 2021 and at ob-gyn clinics by 3.3 percent. That created a vicious cycle where the replacement ratio of new pediatricians entering the field dwindled from 97.4 percent in 2013 to 16.3 percent this year. The rate for obstetricians and gynecologists stood at 71.9 percent in the first half of this year.
      The field with the biggest increase in new clinics was mental health, rising from 781 in 2013 to 1,540 this year. Anesthesiology and pain management clinics increased 67.1 percent, and orthopedics and plastic surgery clinics 39 percent and 36.7 percent.
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