According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, a revised Mother and Child Health Act passed the National Assembly at the end of 2018. If the revised act is proclaimed this month, it will enter into force starting from next year.
Under the revised act, postnatal care center workers must inform the owner of the center if they are diagnosed with an infectious disease or suspect they have contracted such a disease. In addition, workers should take education sessions on preventing infections on a regular basis.
Currently, newly employed workers at postnatal care centers must have a checkup for tuberculosis before they begin work, according to the Tuberculosis Prevention Act.
The revised act enables the ministry to shut down postnatal care centers if they do not take adequate measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as disinfection or isolation, after a baby or mother is transferred to a hospital due to such an illness. Postnatal care centers that harm the health or cause the death of a baby or mother can also be forced to close down.
The Health Ministry and legislative office are due to announce which diseases exactly the revised act will apply to before it takes effect next year, according to the ministry.
In June 2015, 30 newborn babies staying at the same postnatal care center in Seoul were diagnosed with tuberculosis when a worker who had been suspected of latent tuberculosis continued to work at the center and spread the disease to the babies.
The court ruled in January 2018 that the center and worker must take responsibility and compensate the victims.
By Park Ju-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)