SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- Thousands of doctors will stage a nationwide walkout this week as scheduled in protest over the country's medical reform blueprint, and they will not hold talks with the authorities until their demands are met, according to their association on Wednesday.
The Korea Medical Association (KMA), which represents 130,000 doctors, is set to stage a general strike Friday, voicing opposition to the government's plan to foster more physicians.
Trainee doctors are also set to join the strike. Last week, trainee doctors at hospitals also launched a one-day walkout.
"The health ministry has made it clear that they will not accept our demand. Accordingly, we will hold the protest as planned," the KMA said in a statement. The group said doctors working at vital departments, including intensive care units, will continue to be on normal duty.
Earlier in the day, the health ministry said it is open to talks with the KMA, but it added it cannot further delay the expansion in the number of new doctors, citing lack of medical infrastructure in rural areas.
Under the country's medical workforce reform plan, the health ministry is planning to expand admission quotas at medical schools by 4,000 over the next 10 years starting 2022, and to open a new public medical school.
The scheme will increase the number of students admitted annually to medical schools to 3,458 in the 2022-2031 period from the current 3,058.
Local doctors say that increasing the number of new doctors will only lead to more competition among doctors and will not help ease the disparity in medical infrastructure among regions.
Doctors also protest against the plan to include traditional oriental medicine in the nation's public health insurance system, as they consider the field to be less scientific and vital.
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