‘Poor medical facilities behind high death rate of disabled children` [2015/11/17 16:42]

Physically disabled children aged 1-9 in Korea were 38 times more likely to die than their nondisabled peers in 2012, partly because of inadequate number of medical institutions specializing in patients with special needs, a government study showed.

According to the study released by the Health Ministry and the National Rehabilitation Center this week, disabled children had a mortality rate of 580 per 100,000 children in 2012, while the mortality rate of nondisabled children was dramatically lower, at 15.3 per 100,000 children.

Even for older children and teenagers aged 10-19, the mortality rate was much higher among those disabled than the non-disabled. While 308.3 per 100,000 disabled children died in 2012, 18.8 per 100,000 nondisabled children died in the same year.

As of this year, there are only 16 medical institutions that specialize in rehabilitation treatments for the physically disabled nationwide. The National Rehabilitation Center, many children with disabilities require rehabilitation services. For instance, children in need of rehabilitation may have aphasia, developmental delays or motor impairments due to cerebral palsy.

By not receiving rehabilitation on time, children with disabilities may miss opportunities to gain physical independence, increase functional abilities and improve their quality of life. It can also severely affect their general health condition, especially if they have a severe form of physical disability, reports said.

“Attention to early childhood development is important for all children, but it is particularly important for children with disabilities,” said a UNICEF report released in 2013. “Early identification and assessment of a child`s disability helps identify causes and provide a diagnosis, such as cognitive delay, cerebral palsy or deafness, that allow parents, health care providers, teachers and others to better understand and plan for the needs of children.”

According to UNICEF, there is a lack of significant services for children with disabilities in fields such as speech therapy, physiotherapy and sign language instruction, as well as basic medications, such as those for epilepsy, worldwide.

The Health Ministry said it is planning to increase the number of medical institutions that specialize in rehabilitation for people with disabilities. “We are thinking about coming up with a separate insurance system just for such institutions, so more people can benefit from the services while more facilities can make a profit out of providing rehabilitation treatments,” a Health Ministry official said.
출처: 헤럴드미디어 영자신문 코리아헤럴드 (www.koreaherald.com)