Korean J Prev Med.  1994 Jun;27(2):175-185.

Perspective on Population Characteristics and Health Problems of Koreans in 21st Century

Affiliations
  • 1School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Korea.

Abstract

In order to anticipate disease pattern and health problems of Koreans in the 1st part of 21st century(by the year 2020), transition of population characteristics, mortality and morbidity data during the last 30 years Koreans have experienced were reviewed. On the actual basis of epidemiolgic transition process that has undergone during last 30 years since 1960 along with socioeconomic development and successful implementation of selective national health policies(family planning, medical insurance and etc.), following changes can be expected in the 21st century in Korea, under the assumption that the current rate of progress is maintained. The population of South Korea alone will be doubled the population of 1960 by the year 2013;aged population older than 65 years will be increased from 3.3% in 1960 to 11.4% in 2020 with increased average age of the population from 23.6 year in 1970 to 39.2 year in 2020;urban population from 28% in 1960 to 83% in 2005. GNP/capita has increased tremendously from U.S. $120 in 1970 to $6,749 in 1992, and the government estimated it would be $19,350 in 2010 and $29,460 in 2020. Growth and developmental indices of children, educational achievement and social status of women also showed a remarkable improvement and anticipated to make further progress. Leading causes of mortality and morbidity have shown a striking change during the last 30 years, from infectious diseases to chronic degenerative diseases and man-made injuries. Occurrence of communicable diseases may become minimal although viral hepatitis, venereal diseases including AIDS, and well adapted herpes virus infections will maintain their endemic level. Newly evolving infectious agents, however, should be carefully monitored because of rapidly changing environments and human behaviors. Tuberculosis may increase up to the epidemic level when AIDS prevails. Ischemic heart diseases may increase steadily with increasing occurrence of hypertension and diabetes mellitus whereas cerebrovascular diseases may be decreased slowly. Musculaskeletal diseases which contribute a lot to the disability of aged people may be a major health problems due to increased aged population. Mental diseases, particularly that caused by alcohol and drug abuse, and senile dementia may become a prominent health problem. On the other hand injuries caused by traffic and industrial accidents that have shown most striking increase till now may be decreased considerably by intensive intervention. The health policies in the 21st century will be oriented to the health promotion for good quality life rather than life-savings.

Keyword

perspective; population characteristics; health problems; 21st century; koreans; epidemiologic transition
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