Is whooping cough on the upswing?

From the Daily NK:

NK Whooping Cough…Infant Deaths Helpless

It has recently been confirmed that some children have died of ‘whooping cough’, an acute respiratory epidemic, in Hamhung and Chongjin. In Chongjin, children under 12 are restricted from taking long-trips.

Among North Koreans who have visited areas surrounding Yanbian, rumor has it that “Since this spring, the number of coughing children has increased”, yet this was the first time that a death from a respiratory epidemic was confirmed.

“In Hamhung, some infants have died”

On the 12th, Park Chul Man (pseudonym, 62, Hamhung) who came into China via Tumen said that, “Since mid-April, wooping cough has increased among preschool children, and since June, some infants have died. In Hamhung and Chongjin, all children from infancy to elementary school-age are restricted from going on long trips”.

Kang Sun Mi (pseudonym, 59, Sariwon), from Yanji said that, “Across areas of Hwanghae province, many children suffer from whooping cough”. Kim added that, “children with the illness are confined to preschools, or elementary schools, and their parents bring medicine and food to them daily”.

Whooping cough is an acute respiratory disease to which infants below 5 years old are particularly vulnerable. Throughout the world, 40,000 people die from it annually. After an incubation period of 1 to 3 weeks, children develop a high fever, a runny nose, and continue to cough and tear”.

According to a WTO report, amongst poor countries. wooping cough accounts for 15% of total annual deaths, with the highest death rate recorded in children under 6 years old. The side effects from high fever are usually brain damage and liver failure.

According to Kang, the parents of the sick children take care of all the children confinded to preschools, or elementary schools.

Kang said that, “Because there is no medicine or doctors, it was decided that the should parents do all the nursing work”.

Except for in Pyongyang, the preventive inoculation system is totally destroyed

According to witnesses, since 2002, the preventive inoculation system has been completely destroyed, except for some operation in Pyongyang.

Kim, a defector doctor living in Longjing, explaiend that, “Til 2001, some medicine sent from the U.N. and other sources abroad had been available in Hwamkyung province. However, recently all the medicine goes into Jangmadang to be sold. It is impossible for poor parents to get their children inoculated”.

Kim added that, “the fact that Children over 10 years old have come down with whopping cough shows that the preventive inoculation system in the North is completely dysfunctional”.

According to the UNFPA, the 2004 infant death rate in North Korea is 58 out of 1,000 infants, which is ten times as high as that of South Korea (5.3 out of 1,000 infants).

In 2000, UNICEF reported that, “92.4% of North Korean children under 5 years old were inoculated with DPT to prevent whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria”.

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