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Monday's papers: Korean visit, ministers' climate footprints, doctor shortage and Midsummer forecast

Finland's dailies cover a Korean state visit, ministers' environmental choices, plans to hire more physicians and more.

Tanssijoita lavalla.
Midsummer dancing in the municipality of Mäntsälä. Image: Berislav Jurišić / Yle

Southwest daily Turun Sanomat reports that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook have arrived in Finland for a state visit. Their trip, which began Sunday, will last through Tuesday.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio will greet their guests today at a ceremony at Helsinki's Presidential Palace. The ceremony will begin at 10 am, weather permitting, and the public will be able to follow the proceedings from Helsinki's Market Square.

Niinistö's office says the presidents will discuss bilateral relations, regional questions and multilateral cooperation on a global level. The leaders will hold a joint press conference once the talks have finished.

The previous presidential visit from the Republic of Korea took place in 2006. Niinistö last visited South Korea when he attended the international Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in 2012.

Who walks the talk?

Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva features answers from some of Finland's new ministers about their lifestyle choices with respect to the government programme's new climate agenda.

The ministers were asked where they lived, in what kind of home, and how they heated it. They were also asked what kind of transportation they used. Examples include Left Alliance chair and education minister Li Andersson, who says she lives in a wooden oil-heated row house in Turku and has an apartment in Helsinki with district heating that she buys from renewable energy sources. She says she primarily uses the train or walks.

Defence minister Antti Kaikkonen from the Centre Party says he lives 30 kilometres north of Helsinki in Tuusula in an electrically-heated detached home and primarily uses a car for travel. Sanna Marin, transport and communications minister from the Social Democratic Party, lives in a district heating-warmed apartment in Tampere and says she uses a car when necessary.

Green Party chair and interior minister Maria Ohisalo says she lives in a duplex with district heating in Helsinki's Viikki district and mostly get around by bike or public transport. Swedish People's Party chair and justice minister Anna-Maja Henriksson lives in the city of Jakobstad in western Finland in a detached home with direct electric heating and an air source heat pump. She also has a small apartment where she stays in Helsinki. She says she travels from her hometown to Helsinki by plane or train.

The state provides chauffeur-driven cars to all ministers for reasons of safety and expedience. Most of the ministers responding to the questions say they will still try to walk and use public transport whenever they can.

Filling a public physician void

The nation's most widely-read daily, Helsingin Sanomat, has a story on government's plans to hire 1,000 new doctors to work at public health care centres. The paper reports that the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recently revised its estimate of how many more doctors are required to bring public services up to speed to between 1,100 and 1,800.

"Municipalities have started to count on people of working age using occupational health care services and half of children being covered by private sickness insurance. The increased popularity of the active population opting for private services illustrates a deep mistrust of basic services," says Kati Myllymäki of the Finnish Medical Association, a professional organisation for doctors.

Some 25 million visits to public health care centres were registered last year, 6.4 million involving the centres' doctors. Only eight percent of people in lowest income bracket have bought private insurance, compared with 30 percent of people in the highest income level.

THL research director Maria Vaalavuo tells the paper that many high earners don't know what it is like to wait in line at a public health care centre "because they have never done it". She says that the lines are mostly filled with the unemployed, seniors and children without private coverage – groups that have "little political clout" that would urge municipalities to remedy the deteriorating situation.

Warmer than usual, perhaps?

And the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat has made a prediction concerning the weather for the Midsummer weekend of 21-23 June, when most Finns head to their summer cottages from some rest and relaxation.

Although "it's hard to make forecasts in advance", IS says the current prediction is looking good for the cherished holiday.

"Based on the monthly forecast you could say that southern Finland might see warmer temperatures than normal, so there's hope," Foreca meteorologist Kristian Roine tells the paper.

Temperatures of around 24 degrees Celsius are being predicted for the Helsinki area's Midsummer weekend at present, while central and northern areas have forecasts of "normal weather" for the season, with temperatures around 20 degrees.

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