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Korean Medical Professionals Fear Impact of MERS on Country’s Economy and National Health

Jun 23, 2015

SEOUL, June 24, 2015—The majority of medical professionals in South Korea are concerned about negative effects on the country’s economy and national health due to the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), according to a recent study conducted by Kantar Health, a leading global healthcare consulting firm. Four of five physicians cited a poor response by South Korea’s central government as a major cause of the spread of MERS.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012; it causes acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The outbreak in South Korea began in May, and the health ministry in Seoul has confirmed 179 cases and 27 fatalities. Nearly 60 percent of medical professionals surveyed by Kantar Health said that neither nosocomial (hospital-acquired) nor community-acquired MERS infections are being well-managed or controlled. Furthermore, 80 percent of respondents said that the medical teams themselves feel more exposed to MERS than the public, making it necessary to increase safety measures.

“The MERS outbreak is considered to be as severe as the SARS outbreak in the region in 2003,” said Graeme Jacombs, Kantar Health’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. “Most of the medical professionals we surveyed are placing the blame for continuing MERS infections largely on lack of government response, but hospitals, physicians and patients all need to be better aware of the risk and take necessary precautions. The doctors are worried about the effect of the disease not only on health but on the economy if it cannot be better managed.”

Doctors who participated in Kantar Health’s survey rated patients with underlying disease and elderly adults with low immunity as being most at risk for contracting MERS, while children and adolescents have lower risk.

“Medical professionals are requesting a closer exchange of information and cooperation between the government and hospitals as well as better civic awareness among patients to help manage and control MERS,” Jacombs said. “By working closely with the government to get better information to the public, doctors believe MERS can be better contained.”           

About Kantar Health

Kantar Health is a leading global healthcare consulting firm and trusted advisor to many pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device and diagnostic companies worldwide. It combines evidence-based research capabilities with deep scientific, therapeutic and clinical knowledge, commercial development know-how, and brand and marketing expertise to help clients evaluate opportunities, launch products and maintain brand and market leadership.

Kantar Health deeply understands the influence of patients, payers and physicians, especially as they relate to the performance and payment of medicines and the delivery of healthcare services. Its 600+ healthcare industry specialists work across the product lifecycle, from preclinical development to launch, acting as catalysts to successful decision-making in life sciences and helping clients prioritize their product development and portfolio activities, differentiate their brands and drive product success post-launch. Kantar Health is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP. For more information, please visit