Is Typoid on the increase?

From the Daily NK:

North Koreans “1 out of 10 Households Have Diseased Patients”

Paratyphoid, an acute illness of the digestive system, is spreading over North Hwanghae province, including Haeju City.

Paratyphoid is an epidemic which spread throughout Hamkyung, Jakang, Yangkang provinces during the ‘March of Tribulation’ in the mid-90’s.

“Just Education, No Inoculation”

On July 12, Choi Gil Yeo (pseudonym, 59, Haeju of South Hwanghae province) who returned from visiting her relatives in Dandong, China said that, “Since May, the number of Paratyphoid patients has been rising in Haeju city, Chongdan-gun and Shinwon-gun. At least 1 out of 10 households has a Paratyphoid patient”.

Regarding the measures the North Korean government has taken, Choi said that, “the administration and the Public Health administration instructed people “to drink boiled water” and “confine patients to houses”, but did not take any action on vaccination or prevention of the epidemics”.

On the 13th, Kim, a Chinese trader staying in Shinuiju, said during a phone interview that, “In Shinuiju, rumor has it that Paratyphoid is spreading over Hwanghae province, and wholesalers from Haeju, Sariwon, and Nampo have been purchasing increasingly more antibiotics, dextrose packs and syringes.

An interview with Choi is as follows:

To what degree is Paratyphoid spreading?Have there been any deaths?

“Some people have died. I heard from a people’s unit (a neighborhood association) meeting that some have died in Seohae-dong, Gwnagsuk-dong, Yeonha-dong, and Sukmi-dong of Haeju city. Chongdan-gun and Shinwon-gun have had a few deaths. I do not know what the number is, yet at least 1 out of 10 houses has a patient. In the apartment where I live there are two patients.”

The Main Causes Are Polluted Water and Malnutrition

How did the North Korean people discover the causes of the illnesses?

“Originally, tap water from Haeju city and South Hwanghae province was not sufficient to drink. Tap water is salty and has rust as well as some earthworms and insects in it, but that has been the case since two or three years ago. Each district has dug wells to solve the problem. People think that polluted water is the cause of the epidemic, although the more important cause is malnutrition.”

What symptoms do Paratyphoid patients experience?

“A woman living in the house below me had begun to get sick in mid-June, with a 41℃ temperature. She had a high fever, and for one or two days at a time she would be delirious, then would be herself again. But if diarrhea begins, there is no chance of survival. Surviving would mean living without normal brain capacity for the rest of your life.”

How are hospitals treating patients?

“Hospitals? At the moment, Haeju does not have any fully-functioning hospitals. No medicine, no doctors, no patients who want to go to the doctor. Only for surgical operations do people go to the hospital. These kinds of epidemics are not curable even at hospitals. People just treat themselves at home as much as possible. The Haeju 1 hospital and Haeju medical university are also hopeless.”

“The government takes “No responsibility”, everything should be solved in Jangmadang”

What does home treatment consist of?

“Wealthy people just go and buy medicine, but poor people put a cool towel on their head to lower fever and then eat warm soup. The poor do not care whether they live or die…Because they have no way of receiving help. A doctor’s visit costs about 5,000 to 10,000 won ($1.67~$3.33) each. With that money, they could buy medicine in Jangmadang and try to treat themselves.”

What kinds of medicine do they buy?

“Usually they buy Chinese medicine called “Lebo” in Jangmadang. “Lebo” consists of tablets and powdered medicine which is taken with dextrose. They also take antifebriles sent by the U.N.”

How much does the medicine cost?

“Syringes are 200 won ($0.07) a piece, which can be used again with sterilization. Dextrose (25 mg) is 250 won a pack. “Lebo” is 1,500 won ($0.5) a piece. Antifebriles sent by the U.N. are 300 won ($0.1) a tablet. “Lebo” is effective if injected with powdered medicine and dextrose twice a day. Twice daily injections and a piece of antifebrile cost 3.000 won ($1), which for a month costs a patient 10,000 won.”

Is it easy to buy the medicine in Jangmadang?

The Seo Market in Yeonha-dong, Haeju city has the biggest variety of medicine. You can buy the medicine anytime if you have the money. But the price of Paratyphoid medicine and antifebriles are increasing. In Seo Market there are a couple of stalls which buy medicine from wholesalers in Shinuiju and sell it. State-run drug stores do not have medicine any more, so they are used as grocery stores. In Jangmadang, most of the medicine is from the U.S. and China, and the little medicine that was made in North Korea is very coarse.

Paratyphoid is an epidemic from malnutrition and poverty

Are families of patients preparing for the epidemic?

“Paratyphoid is an epidemic that generally the poor and malnourished people are vulnerable to. A normal monthly wage for many is less than 2000 won ($0.67), which means if the people come down with the illness, they cannot afford to buy medicine. Poverty leads to the disease, and also often leads to the worsening of the situation.”

How about tap water?

“Only in places such as Gwangsuk-dong and Haewoon-dong, does tap water still run sufficiently. altough it is only public tap water. Almost everyone must rely on wells and springs buried in the mountains.”

What kind of action has the Health administration taken?

“The only thing the government does is “education”, instructing people to drink boiled tap water, confine patients to their houses, and sterilize bowls and spoons. The government has only watched as people die of starvation and illness.”

Have you ever received medicine sent by the U.N and South Korea?

“Everyone knows that the U.N. and South Korea send medicine. However, hospitals and clinics do not receive the medicine. Even state-run pharmacies do not have any medicine. All the medicine is sold in Jangmadang.”

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