Special Report II
World Korean Medical Organization Annual Forum 2016
The 2016 Annual WKMO Forum was held in Washington, D.C. on June 9-10th at the Rayburn House Office Building. The venue chosen for this year’s forum was significant for two reasons. First, the Rayburn House Office Building is one of the three congressional office buildings for the U.S. House of Representatives. Second, and more importantly, it was where the Asian-Pacific American Heritage week was established to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans to U.S. history and culture. Later, in 1992, Congress extended the time frame of the week and officially designated the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
WKMO visited this historical site for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans with Asian American Representatives Mike Honda (from California) and Charles Rangel (from New York). Representative Honda and Representative Rangel shared their views and ideas about the global health industry and were also honored for their achievements.
The title of the 2016 Annual WKMO Forum was the “Symposium on Global Health Disparities.” The goal of the forum was to spread greater awareness about the various healthcare inequities that the world sees today and to identify the various ways through which physicians can collaborate to improve these inequities and therefore global health.
One example of a source of numerous health disparities that was addressed was the North Korean healthcare system. Forum participants discussed policies and initiatives intended to provide humanitarian assistance, combat health inequity, and improve the quality of healthcare in North Korea. Although North Korea has continued to be a hostile nation, the healthcare industry has been able to establish several channels that facilitate cooperative communication and interaction. Dr. Hee Young Shin of Seoul National University College of Medicine delivered a presentation titled “R&D for Health Care Initiatives for North Korea”. Dr. Shin, who currently presides over the Institute for Medical Cooperation between North and South Korea, spoke of her institution’s plans for the integration of healthcare. Dr. David Roh, dean of the only international medical school in North Korea (PUST DMS), shared his perspectives on “Engaging North Korea through Medical Education.” The school offers medical education in English and provides unprecedented and continuous long-term healthcare access to its students in North Korea.
Another issue that was discussed was the prevalence of Hepatitis in the Asian community. This discussion was led by Dr. Chul Hyun, Dr. James Lewis, and Dr. Winston Wong. Health disparities in Australia and Canada were also addressed by Dr. Yoon Kyo An from Brisbane and Dr. Tae Kyoung Kim from Toronto. Furthermore, the potential role of telemedicine in combating global health disparities was examined by Dr. Joseph McMenamin.
The 2016 Annual WKMO Forum was successful in stimulating the discussion of global health disparities, a topic that is extremely pertinent and important to the diverse community of healthcare professionals and leaders who attended the forum. WKMO hopes there will be as much progress next year, when it holds its 2017 Annual WKMO Forum.