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Professor Bo Kyeong Seo‘s research paper, Locating Care within the Nascent Infrastructure: Renal Dialysis in Thailand

2017-02-01 14:02
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Locating Care within the Nascent Infrastructure: Renal Dialysis in Thailand

When new epidemics hit us, calls for infrastructural development are renewed. More investment in hospital facilities, medical staff and the development of effective protocols for disease control is clearly advisable as seen with the recent end of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. On the other side of the globe, South Korea’s sudden MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2015 provides a different picture. What terrified people in South Korea during the seven-month long outbreak was not only the rapid spread of an unfamiliar virus but also the unexpected inability of one of the most high-tech hospitals in Seoul to isolate potentially infected individuals. The country’s most lavish medical establishment, Samsung Medical Center, had spent 10 billion won ($8.9 million) for the renovation of its mega-size emergency room just two years before the MERS outbreak (The Wall Street Journal, 2015/06/18), but it was not prepared to prevent intra-hospital transmission (Ki 2015). The South Korean experience presents an alarming scenario, one in which technical advancement does not guarantee efficient control and prevention. Strengthening infrastructural capacities continues to be the dominant response to various health risks, yet such attempt often underestimates the very important fact that health infrastructures are not the stable material base on which biomedical superstructures rest. Health infrastructures, rather, are dynamic but fragile networks requiring efficacious connections between human and material resources.

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