Via The Korea Times: Schools exposed to infectious diseases.
Students are vulnerable to infectious diseases because of the government's poor disease monitoring system for schools, a lawmaker said Thursday.
According to Rep. Park Hong-keun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, 79,557 students in the nation's elementary, middle and high schools were infected by infectious diseases this year.
Of them, flu has topped the list in number with 67,317, followed by chickenpox with 6,081 and mumps with 4,501.
The report comes as the government is grappling with the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The number of flu-infected students has spiked from 2011, when only 116 were reportedly infected. But 14,560 students reportedly contracted the flu in 2012, and the number reached 33,536 last year.
In a press release, Park criticized the government for its incompetence in disease control at schools where experts said a lack of preemptive governmental measures boosted the spread of diseases.
"Simple vaccination will protect students from contracting such diseases," said Park. "But the Ministry of Education has not allocated any budget for infection prevention at schools."
Also, the education ministry has not established a manual for disease control at school. And it placed disinfectants there only after infectious diseases like H1N1 or MERS became rampant and schools were closed, Park said.
The ministry spent 29 billion won ($26,140,000) to buy vaccines and develop manuals when H1N1 was spread in the country in 2009, and it spent 26 billion won to place disinfectants, masks and thermometers at schools this month.
"The government should appropriate the related budget, taking preemptive measure for communicable diseases to protect students," Park said.