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Looming resignations of medical professors a concern: S. Korean health minister

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Looming resignations of medical professors a concern: S. Korean
 health minister

Seoul, March 18 (IANS) South Korea’s Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong on Monday expressed grave concerns regarding a decision by medical professors to collectively resign in support of junior doctors’ walkout that has crippled medical services for nearly a month.

About 90 per cent of 13,000 interns and resident doctors have stayed off the job since late February in protest of the government’s decision to increase enrollment at medical schools by 2,000 spots from the current 3,058, Yonhap news agency reported.

With the labour action by junior doctors showing little signs of backing down, the emergency committee of medical professors announced on Friday that faculty members from 16 medical schools will submit resignations en masse on March 25 in an effort to seek a breakthrough in the prolonged impasse.

“Despite the people’s concerns and the government’s repeated appeals, we express grave concern over making such an announcement,” Cho told a government response meeting.

“The people will find it difficult to comprehend their claim that they will leave patients en masse in order to seek dialogue and compromise,” he added.

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The health minister urged professors to focus their efforts on persuading medical students and junior doctors to return to schools and hospitals while engaging in discussions to improve the country’s medical system.

Cho plans to meet with heads of the country’s top five hospitals later on Monday, followed by another session with administrators of state-run hospitals on Tuesday.

“We plan to monitor the overall status of the emergency medical system and listen to their difficulties,” Cho said.

Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo, meanwhile, told reporters that the government plans to revamp a scheme to help doctors in essential medical fields receive more fees from the national health insurance.

“We aim to address the negative aspects of the fee-for-service system by revamping the medical insurance programme through the adoption of a value-based payment system, ensuring its sustainability,” Park said.

Park also said the government will inject around 3 trillion won ($2.25 billion) to revitalise obstetrics and paediatrics departments, which have been hit by the country’s declining birth rates.

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The government has been pushing to sharply raise the number of medical students to brace for the country’s fast-ageing population, and a shortage of physicians in rural areas and essential areas, such as paediatrics and emergency departments.

Doctors, on the other hand, said the quota hikes will undermine the quality of medical education and result in higher medical costs for patients.

They have called for measures to first address the underpaid specialists and improve legal protection against excessive medical malpractice lawsuits.

–IANS

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113 drug users recover in Kabul

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113 drug users recover in Kabul

113 drug users recover in Kabul

Kabul, July 20 (IANS) A total of 113 people with drug dependence have recovered after receiving medical treatment at the rehabilitation centre here, Mufti Abdul Mateen Qani, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, said on Saturday.

The former drug users have rejoined their families, the official said.

So far, 152 drug users are still under treatment at the rehabilitation centre.

The Afghan caretaker administration has banned the cultivation of opium poppy, processing it into drugs and drug trafficking, Xinhua news agency reported.

–IANS

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China initiates emergency response to flooding, typhoons in three regions

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China initiates emergency response to flooding, typhoons in three regions

China initiates emergency response to flooding, typhoons in three regions

Beijing, July 20 (IANS) The Chinese authorities on Saturday initiated a Level-IV emergency response in three provincial regions as the country continues to face severe flooding situations.

The regions involved are Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan, which are under the influence of two tropical depressions intensifying in the South China Sea and east to the Philippines, respectively, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

At a joint work conference Saturday, the Ministry of Emergency Management called on relevant departments to fulfill their responsibilities and improve the response to rainstorms and flood disasters, Xinhua news agency reported.

More efforts should be taken to strengthen dam inspections, especially in key sections, enhance the sharing and coordination of hydrological and meteorological information, and make good preparations for evacuation to prevent mass casualties, according to the meeting.

The authorities have also maintained Level-IV emergency responses in Sichuan, Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan and Anhui. Eight work teams from the central government are helping relief work in flood-prone regions.

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The Ministry of Water Resources and the China Meteorological Administration have issued yellow alerts for mountainous flooding in Sichuan, Yunnan and Xizang. In the past 24 hours, 68 rivers in 12 provincial regions have faced flood threats exceeding the alert level.

China has a four-tier flood-control emergency-response system, with Level I being the most severe response, as well as a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

–IANS

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5.7-magnitude earthquake hits off Indonesia's North Sumatra province

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5.7-magnitude earthquake hits off Indonesia's North Sumatra province

5.7-magnitude earthquake hits off Indonesia's North Sumatra province

Jakarta, July 20 (IANS) A 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Saturday evening, but did not trigger any large waves, according to the country’s meteorology, climatology, and geophysics agency.

The tremors struck at 19:05 Jakarta time (1205 GMT) with the epicentre situated at 153 km southwest of West Nias regency and a depth of 13 km under the seabed, the agency said, Xinhua news agency reported.

The agency officials did not issue a tsunami warning because the tremors were not expected to generate large waves.

Indonesia, an archipelago, is situated on the seismically active “Pacific Ring of Fire,” which predisposes the country to frequent earthquakes.

–IANS

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New Zealand Prime Minister dials PM Modi, vows to take forward ties with India

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New Zealand Prime Minister dials PM Modi, vows to take forward ties with India

New Zealand Prime Minister dials PM Modi, vows to take forward ties with India

Wellington, July 20 (IANS) New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Saturday dialled PM Narendra Modi, congratulating him on his recent election victory as both leaders reiterated their firm commitment to take bilateral cooperation to new heights in the years to come.

“I’ve just spoken with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and congratulated him on his recent election victory. I told the Prime Minister how much I value the immense contribution that Indian-Kiwis make to New Zealand. We both agreed there is so much more our countries can do together!” Luxon posted on X after the phone call.

During their conversation, both leaders noted that India-New Zealand ties are anchored in shared democratic values and close people-to-people ties.

Highlighting the momentum generated by recent high-level contacts between the two sides, they agreed to advance the mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in various areas, including trade and economic cooperation, animal husbandry, pharmaceuticals, education, space among others.

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“I thank Prime Minister Luxon for his call and warm felicitations. Reiterated our firm commitment to take forward India-New Zealand ties, which are rooted in shared democratic values and people-to-people ties,” said PM Modi.

Prime Minister Modi also thanked Luxon for looking after the interests of the Indian diaspora in New Zealand.

–IANS

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Over 30 missing after rain-triggered flash floods in China

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Over 30 missing after rain-triggered flash floods in China

Over 30 missing after rain-triggered flash floods in China

Beijing, July 20 (IANS) More than 30 people remained missing after flash floods struck Xinhua Village in southwest China’s Sichuan Province at around 2:30 am Saturday, local authorities said.

The floods triggered by torrential rains also damaged over 40 houses in the village in Hanyuan County, Ya’an City, according to the county’s emergency management bureau.

The disaster also disrupted roads, bridges and communications, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rescue operations are currently underway. A local fire brigade with 217 rescuers and 55 vehicles has rushed to the scene. The Ministry of Emergency Management has also dispatched 29 rescue experts and 13 sets of rescue equipment, as well as drones to provide emergency communications.

In addition to 10,000 sets of relief materials previously allocated to the province, the central authorities will send another 40,000 sets, including folding beds, quilts and towels, to support local governments in evacuating and resettling the affected people and providing basic living assistance.

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–IANS

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