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Epidemiol Health. 2015;37(1):e2015040. English. Original Article.
Lee C , Ki M .
Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cheongju, Korea.
Department of Cancer Control and Policy, Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.

The recent outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection in Korea resulted in large socioeconomic losses. This provoked the Korean government and the general public to recognize the importance of having a well-established system against infectious diseases. Although epidemiologic investigation is one of the most important aspects of prevention, it has been pointed out that much needs to be improved in Korea. We review here the current status of the Korean epidemiologic service and suggest possible supplementation measures. We examine the current national preventive infrastructure, including human resources such as Epidemic Intelligence Service officers, its governmental management, and related policies. In addition, we describe the practical application of these resources to the recent MERS outbreak and the progress in preventive measures. The spread of MERS demonstrated that the general readiness for emerging infectious diseases in Korea is considerably low. We believe that it is essential to increase society's investment in disease prevention. Fostering public health personnel, legislating management policies, and establishing research centers for emerging infectious diseases are potential solutions. Evaluating international preventive systems, developing cooperative measures, and initiating improvements are necessary. We evaluated the Korean epidemiologic investigation system and the public preventive measures against infectious diseases in light of the recent MERS outbreak. We suggest that governmental authorities in Korea enforce preventive policies, foster the development of highly qualified personnel, and increase investment in the public health domain of infectious disease prevention.

Copyright © 2019. Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors.