RoK improving health care in DPRK

According to the Associated Press (via the Washington Post):

North Koreans are getting better medical treatment as the result of a joint program between the two Koreas that has trained thousands of doctors, provided modern equipment and renovated hospitals, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Maternal mortality has declined by over 20 percent since 2005, and diarrhea cases and deaths in operations have also dropped, said Dr. Eric Laroche.

The World Health Organization has helped in the wide-ranging program, which started in 2006 and is funded by South Korea. It has cost a total of $30.2 million so far.

The program has trained more than 6,000 doctors and nurses in emergency obstetric care, newborn care and child illnesses, said Laroche, who assessed its progress in a four-day visit to North Korea.

The specialization marks a change in health strategy in North Korea, which has about 90,000 family doctors who care for about 130 families each, according to Laroche.

“They know each family one by one,” he said. But, he added, “they’re extremely keen to be trained.”

Laroche said hospital staff have been trained in hygiene and clinics have received better material for operations, blood transplants and other medical interventions.

Numerous hospitals have been renovated, and material has also been distributed to 1,200 rural clinics.

Between 2007 and 2009, the number of patients dying in operations fell 73.4 percent, said Laroche, citing a study by the University of Melbourne.

He declined to give an overall view of the health system in the isolated communist nation. But he said services were well-spread among cities and communities.

Read the full article here:
WHO: Korean cooperation boosting health in north
Associated Press (via Washington Post)
Elaine Engler
3/4/2010

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