Archive for the ‘UNWHO’ Category

UN to give DPRK US$2.1m in flood aid

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

The United Nations has decided to provide more than US$2 million in emergency relief to flood-stricken North Korea this year, a news report said Wednesday.

According to the Voice of America, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund allocated a total of about US$2.1 million in “Rapid Response Grants” following reports of heavy flood damage in the communist country.

The U.N. had said earlier that $5.8 million will be needed to help the flood victims in the North.

The relief aid will be conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Program (WFP), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF, it said.

The WHO will use the money to send clean water to people affected by floods, and the WFP will provide food aid to expectant mothers. The UNICEF will also provide medicine and vaccines to the communist state.

A report by the U.N. released in August claimed there was an outbreak of a waterborne epidemic in the country.

Exact information on North Korea is hard to come by, but the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that some 33 people were killed, 18 reported missing and 50,000 displaced by this summer’s flooding that affected large parts of the country.

Read the full story here:
U.N. to give N. Korea US$2.1 mln in flood aid: report


ROK to donate $6.3m to DPRK

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

South Korea will give US$6.3 million won in humanitarian aid to North Korea through a United Nations agency, the unification ministry said Monday.

The move comes as Seoul has maintained it will provide assistance to underprivileged people in the North regardless of political and diplomatic developments.

Inter-Korean tensions that spiked in the first half of this year have eased in recent months with the two Koreas engaged in talks to fully reopen the factory park in Kaesong and hold family reunions for people separated by the 1950-53 Korean War on Sept. 25-30.

“The money to go to the World Health Organization (WHO) will help repair medical facilities, train healthcare workers and give essential drugs to the North that can help all people,” a unification ministry official said.

The funds will come from the inter-Korean cooperation fund managed by the state with final approval to be given by the South and North Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council.

Besides money to be sent to the WHO, Seoul plans to allow 12 civic groups to send 2.35 billion won (US$2.13 million) worth of aid to the North in 13 different projects, the ministry official said.

This move will mark the second time that the Park Geun-hye administration has allowed humanitarian aid to reach the North. The last shipment was approved in late July when Seoul said it would send $6.04 million to the North through the U.N. Children’s Fund and allowed 1.47 billion won in aid to be sent by five civic groups.

The aid to be provided by private charity groups includes medical supplies, baby formula, vitamins, soup, soy milk, supplies to make nutritionally fortified bread and stationary for children, he added.

Charity groups such as the Eugene Bell foundation, Human Earth Organization, Headquarters of Zero Tuberculosis World, Movement for One Corea, Korea Foundation for International Healthcare and Korea Love One groups want to send humanitarian supplies to the North.

The official said that compared to the last aid that focused on giving aide to newborns, young children and pregnant women, the latest move aims to help all people in need of assistance.

“Final approval will be made following confirmation that local relief organizations have received assurance of transparent distribution of the aid from Pyongyang, and they have acquired the necessary supplies to send to the communist country,” he said.

Related to the aid plan, various international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, claimed the North will likely suffer from a food shortage this year.

Read the whole story here:
S. Korea to give US$6.3 mln in humanitarian aid to N. Korea


Smoking in the DPRK

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

May 31st was also the 26th ‘World No Tobacco day.” According to Rodong Shinmun, North Korea also observed ‘No Tobacco Day’ at an event held at Pyongyang People’s Palace of Culture. It was attended by WHO officials, government agency and affiliated union representatives and ordinary workers.

However, North Korea’s smoking rate is still one of the highest in the world. WHO reports claim that North Korea’s smoking rate among those age 15 years and older is 52.3%, the highest in Asia. This is partly because smoking in the streets and all major public facilities is allowed. Restaurants, parks, offices, theatres and public gathering areas are all places in which people are free to smoke. There are ‘no-smoking’ signs on trains, but many ignore these warnings as well.

Read previous posts on tobacco here.

Read the full story here:
No Smoking Day Lacking NK Traction
Daily NK
Choi Song Min


1 in 10 North Korean babies premature

Friday, May 4th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

One out of every ten new babies born in North Korea is born premature, according to new World Health Organization (WHO) data.

According to the WHO-produced ‘Born too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth’, which was released by the UN body on the 2nd, among 347,600 babies born in North Korea in 2010, fully 37,300 were preterm, or roughly 10.7%. North Korea ranked 80th out of 184 countries surveyed on this measure.

Complications linked to preterm birth caused the death of 2,700 babies, 7% (2,700) of the total, placing North Korea 55th in the world.

You can download the full UN report here.

Read the full story here:
1 in 10 North Korean Babies Born Premature
Daily NK
Hwang Chang Hyun


Amnesty International publishes report on DPRK

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

UPDATE: UN World Health Organization has criticized the Amnesty report.  According to the Associated Press:

The World Health Organization found itself Friday in the strange position of defending North Korea’s health care system from an Amnesty International report, three months after WHO’s director described medicine in the totalitarian state as the envy of the developing world.

WHO spokesman Paul Garwood insisted he wasn’t criticizing Amnesty’s work, but the public relations flap illustrated an essential quandary for aid groups in unfree states: how to help innocent people without playing into the hands of their leaders.

Amnesty’s report on Thursday described North Korea’s health care system in shambles, with doctors sometimes performing amputations without anesthesia and working by candlelight in hospitals lacking essential medicine, heat and power. It also raised questions about whether coverage is universal as it — and WHO — claimed, noting most interviewees said they or a family member had given doctors cigarettes, alcohol or money to receive medical care. And those without any of these reported that they could get no health assistance at all.

Garwood said Thursday’s report by Amnesty was mainly anecdotal, with stories dating back to 2001, and not up to the U.N. agency’s scientific approach to evaluating health care.

“All the facts are from people who aren’t in the country,” Garwood told reporters in Geneva. “There’s no science in the research.”

The issue is sensitive for WHO because its director-general, Margaret Chan, praised the communist country after a visit in April and described its health care as the “envy” of most developing nations.

Major global relief agencies have been quietly fighting for years to save the lives of impoverished and malnourished North Koreans, even as the country’s go-it-alone government joined the exclusive club of nuclear weapons powers and wasted millions on confrontational military programs.

Some groups may fear being expelled from the country if they are openly critical of Pyongyang, which is highly sensitive to outside criticism. Still, Chan’s comments were uncommonly ebullient.

Garwood and WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib insisted that Amnesty’s report was complementary to their boss’ observations, and sought to downplay Chan’s praise for North Korea. Instead, they focused on the challenges she outlined for North Korea, from poor infrastructure and equipment to malnutrition and an inadequate supply of medicines.

But whereas Chan had noted that North Korea “has no lack of doctors and nurses,” Amnesty said some people had to walk two hours to get to a hospital for surgery. Chan cited the government’s “notable public health achievements,” while Amnesty said health care remained at a low level or was “progressively getting worse.”

Asked Friday what countries were envious of North Korea’s health, Chaib said she couldn’t name any. But she highlighted the importance of maintaining the health body’s presence in the country, where officials do their best to save lives despite “persisting challenges.”

“We are an organization dealing with member states, and we respect the sovereignty of all countries,” Chaib said. “We need to work there to improve the lives of people.”

Sam Zarifi, head of Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific program, said the human rights group stood by its findings.

“We certainly have a lot of restrictions in terms of working in North Korea, but we did our best in terms of capturing the information we could verify,” Zarifi said. “We don’t take the WHO’s statements as criticizing or rejecting Amnesty’s findings.”

He said Amnesty had spoken to North Koreans as well as to foreign health care and aid workers, and relied heavily on WHO for information — including the assessment that North Korea spends $1 per person per year on health care, the lowest level in the world.

The U.N. estimates that 8.7 million people need food in North Korea. The country has relied on foreign assistance to feed much of its population since the mid-1990s when its economy was hit by natural disasters and the loss of the regime’s Soviet benefactor.

North Korea, ruled by Kim Jong Il, is routinely described by U.N. and other reports as one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Garwood said Amnesty’s research added a needed element to understanding health conditions in North Korea, but added that it didn’t even mention recent improvements in the country as the result of a program funded by South Korea and aided by WHO.

The U.N. body claims that maternal mortality has declined by over 20 percent since 2005, and diarrhea cases and deaths in operations have also dropped. It says more than 6,000 doctors and nurses have been trained in emergency obstetric care, newborn care and child illnesses, while clinics have received better material for operations, blood transplants and other medical interventions.

As for Chan’s April claim that “people in the country do not have to worry about a lack of financial resources to access care,” Garwood said hundreds of field missions have been conducted in North Korea.

“None have come back reporting the kinds of things in the Amnesty report in terms of payment for services,” he said.

“I’m not saying they’re not credible accounts,” he added. “But it’s not taking into account some of the things that are happening today.”

Zarifi, of Amnesty, said the whole debate would be ended if North Korea’s government provided access to monitors so that everyone had a better understanding of the country’s health care system.

“Every indication we have indicates the state of health care in North Korea is dire,” he said.

ORIGINAL POST: Here is the introduction to the report (which you can download here as a PDF):

In the early 1990s, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) faced a famine that killed up to one million people in a population that at the time hovered around 22 million (the current population stands at 23.9 million). Food shortages and a more general economic crisis have persisted to this day. The government has resolutely maintained that it is committed to, and capable of, providing for the basic needs of its people and satisfying their right to food and a proper standard of health. The testimonies presented in this report suggest otherwise. The people of North Korea suffer significant deprivation in their enjoyment of the right to adequate health care, in large part due to failed or counterproductive government policies. These poor policies include systematic failure to provide sufficient resources for basic health care (North Korea had one of the lowest levels of per capital funding for health care recorded by the World Health Organisation in 2006). After nearly two decades, food insecurity remains a critical concern for millions of North Koreans. This has been compounded by the government’s reluctance to seek international cooperation and assistance, which the government is obligated to do when it would otherwise be unable to ensure minimum essential levels of food for the whole population, and its restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian assistance. This delayed and inadequate response to the food crisis has significantly affected people’s health.

Additionally, a currency revaluation plan in November 2009 caused spiralling inflation that in turn aggravated food shortages and sparked social unrest. In the first few months after the plan went into effect, the North Korean government exacerbated the situation by restricting the use of foreign currency, closing down food markets, and prohibiting small-plot farming. Many people died of starvation and many others lost their entire savings.

Amnesty International has documented how widespread and chronic malnutrition, which suppresses people’s immune system, has triggered epidemics and mass outbreaks of illnesses related to poor diet. Interviews with North Koreans depict a country that professes to have a universal (free) health care system but in reality struggles to provide even the most basic service to the population. Health facilities are rundown and operate with frequent power cuts and no heat. Medical personnel often do not receive salaries, and many hospitals function without medicines and other essentials. As doctors have begun charging for their services, which is illegal under North Korea’s universal health care system, the poor cannot access full medical care, especially medicines and surgery.

The interviews conducted by Amnesty International indicate that the North Korean government has also failed its obligation to provide adequate public health information. As a result, most of the interviewees were unaware of the importance of seeking proper medical diagnoses or completing a course of medication. And, because many hospitals no longer supply free services or medicines (despite government commitments to the contrary), many people normally do not visit doctors even when they are ill.

In a 2004 report, Starved of Rights: Human rights and the food crisis in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Amnesty International documented actions of the North Korean government that aggravated the effects of the famine and the subsequent food crisis, including denying the existence of the problem for many years, and imposing ever tighter controls on the population to hide the true extent of the disaster from its own citizens. It also documented the government’s refusal to allow swift and equitable distribution of food and its imposition of restrictions on freedom of information and movement, which exacerbated the population’s ability to search for food.3 Although some progress has been made since 2004, access to food is still a critical issue in North Korea. As this report demonstrates, the inadequate and sometimes counter-productive actions of the North Korean government over the country’s food crisis have had a devastating impact on the health of the population.

Under international law and standards, North Korea is obligated to protect the rights of its population to the highest attainable standard of health. This means that, at the very least, the state must provide for adequate health care and the underlying determinants of health, including food and nutrition, housing, access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, safe and healthy working conditions, and a healthy environment. North Korea’s responsibilities under international and domestic law will be addressed in greater detail in section 5.

To improve the situation, Amnesty International presents the following key recommendations to the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with more detailed recommendations in the conclusion of this report.

Amnesty International calls on the North Korean government to:

1. as a matter of priority, ensure that food shortages are acknowledged and effective steps taken to address these shortages, including acceptance of needed international humanitarian assistance;

2. ensure the need-based and equitable distribution of health facilities, goods and services throughout the country;

3. co-operate with the World Food Programme and donors, allow unrestricted access to independent monitors, and ensure non-discrimination, transparency and openness in the distribution of food aid;

4.ensure that medical personnel are paid adequately and regularly so that they may carry out their duties properly;

5. undertake information and education campaigns to provide accurate and comprehensive information on prevalent infections and diseases; their causes, symptoms and treatment; and the importance of medical diagnosis and effective use of medicines.

Furthermore, Amnesty International recommends to the international community, and in particular, major donors and neighbouring countries such as China, Japan, Russian Federation, South Korea and US to:

1. ensure that the provision of humanitarian assistance in North Korea is based on need and is not subject to political conditions.

This report has received wide coverage in the media.  Here are the links:

Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times

Choe Sang-hun, New York Times




North Korea has plenty of doctors: WHO

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

According to Reuters (via the Washington Post):

North Korea’s health system would be the envy of many developing countries because of the abundance of medical staff that it has available, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, speaking a day after returning from a 2-1/2 day visit to the reclusive country, said malnutrition was a problem in North Korea but she had not seen any obvious signs of it in the capital Pyongyang.

North Korea — which does not allow its citizens to leave the country — has no shortage of doctors and nurses, in contrast to other developing countries where skilled healthcare workers often emigrate, she said.

This allows North Korea to provide comprehensive healthcare, with one “household doctor” looking after every 130 families, said the head of the United Nations health agency, praising North Korea’s immunization coverage and mother and child care.

“They have something which most other developing countries would envy,” Chan told a news conference, noting that her visit was a rare sign of the communist state’s willingness to cooperate with outside agencies.

Chan’s comments marked a significant change from the assessment of her predecessor, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who said in 2001 that North Korea’s health system was near collapse.

Chan, who acknowledged that countries that she visits always try to look good while pointing to where they need help, met a series of North Korean officials, visited several hospitals, and also talked to Pyongyang-based diplomats, United Nations officials and representatives of the Red Cross.

The authorities acknowledge there is a problem with malnutrition, she said, but things have become better since famine in the 1990s and a series of natural disasters in 2001.

“Nutrition is an area that the government has to pay attention (to) and especially for pregnant women and for young children,” Chan said.


Chan spent most of her brief visit in Pyongyang, and she said that from what she had seen there most people had the same height and weight as Asians in other countries, while there were no signs of the obesity emerging in some parts of Asia.

But she said conditions could be different in the countryside.

News reports said earlier this year that North Koreans were starving to death and unrest was growing as last year’s currency revaluation caused prices to soar.

Chan, who described her visit as “technical and professional” — in other words avoiding politics — said the North Korean government’s readiness to work with international agencies, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was encouraging.

The Global Fund requires countries it works with to provide sound data, account for resources contributed and allow access by officials, she noted.

“I can confirm that at least in the area of health the government is receptive to engagement with international partners,” she said.

“They are receptive to requests for increasing transparency — have a better quality data — and being held accountable for the resources flowing into the country to improve health.”

North Korea, whose human rights record has been strongly condemned by U.N. experts, is refusing to return to six-party talks about its nuclear program, which has led to U.N. sanctions being imposed after a nuclear test in May last year.

Tension is increasing with South Korea, with which the North fought a war in 1950-53, after the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel last month for which Seoul increasingly suspects Pyongyang.

But Chan praised a joint project between North and South Korea to improve women’s and children’s health, which she said was promoting dialogue and trust between the two rivals.

Last month, the WHO said North Korea has reduced deaths from surgery and among women in childbirth under the South Korea-funded program.

The Wall Street Journal calls out Ms. Chan:

Greetings, comrades. World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan has returned from Pyongyang with wonderful news. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is making great strides in health care, with one “household doctor” for every 130 households. Thanks to on-the-spot guidance from Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, North Korean doctors selflessly choose not to emigrate and have even conquered the decadent West’s problem of obesity!

All right, we exaggerate. But only the part about the Dear Leader. Ms. Chan’s surreal statements last Friday, as reported by several wire services, really did include praise for North Korean health care and the lack of obesity. “They have something which most other developing countries would envy,” the global health administrator gushed. In her guided tours, she saw few signs of malnutrition, and the people in Pyongyang were the same height and weight as other Asians.

That’s hardly consistent with the reports of other visitors, or the accounts of North Koreans fleeing starvation—a trend on the upswing again after a poor harvest and harsh winter. Even Ms. Chan’s predecessor described the North’s health-care system as near collapse in 2001, and since then the North has continued to depend on foreign aid to feed one-third of its population. As for the abundance of doctors, the North’s declaration on the WHO website ought to arouse suspicion: “During the period 2001-2003, the number of doctors was increased by 104 percent, the nurses 125 percent and the midwives 107 percent.”

It appears Ms. Chan is either winking at the reality to maintain contact with the North or she allowed herself to be fooled. Her own organization’s doctors have described appalling conditions in North Korean hospitals, such as the lack of running water and electricity.

But then this is nothing new for the WHO. In the 1970s, the United Nations agency promoted Mao Zedong’s vision of “barefoot doctors” to serve the rural poor—even as China’s health-care system was collapsing, along with the rest of society, under the strain of the Cultural Revolution. Today the WHO has become a cheerleader for Cuban health care. As long as a totalitarian state gives plenty of poorly trained people the title of doctor, fudges its health statistics and takes visiting officials on tours of Potemkin hospitals, the U.N. seems happy to give its seal of approval.

Ms. Chan’s testimony can be read here.

Hat tip to a reader.

Read the full story here:
North Korea has plenty of doctors: WHO
Jonathan Lynn


WHO launches health initiative in DPRK

Monday, April 26th, 2010

UPDATE:  According to the Associated Press (Via Washinton Post):

North Korea formally launched a medical videoconference network Tuesday aimed at giving smaller, rural hospitals access to specialists in the capital Pyongyang with the help of the World Health Organization.

WHO has been providing cameras, computers and other equipment to North Korea to help the reclusive, impoverished country connect a main hospital in Pyongyang with medical facilities in 10 provinces. The system is designed to allow doctors to talk to each other to provide additional services to rural patients.

On Tuesday, North Korean health officials and visiting WHO Director-General Margaret Chan held the formal inaugural ceremony for the system at the Kim Man Yu hospital in Pyongyang, according to footage from broadcaster APTN.

“This is an excellent vision because it meets the needs of the government,” Chan said.

Chan, clad in a white gown, later tested the system by talking with provincial doctors via video link.

One unidentified doctor at Jagang province, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Pyongyang, told Chan he is satisfied with the system because it’s too far for his patients to visit specialists in the capital.

She arrived in Pyongyang on Monday, becoming the U.N. agency’s first chief to visit the communist country since 2001.

WHO opened its office in Pyongyang in 2001 and has coordinated the purchase of medical equipment and supplies for North Koreans. The world’s health body says on its Web site that it is currently focusing on strengthening the North’s health infrastructure.

ORIGINAL POST: According to the Associated Press (via Taiwan News):

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan arrived in North Korea on Monday on a rare visit to the isolated country.

The U.N. body has said Chan will spend two days in the reclusive communist country _ the first chief to go since 2001 _ to tour health facilities and meet the country’s health minister.

The WHO has not provided details of Chan’s itinerary, but the Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch that Chan arrived in Pyongyang on Monday.

The dispatch said the government held a reception for Chan, who arrived the same day as Red Cross and Red Crescent officials. It was not clear if the visits were connected.

The North faces chronic food shortages and has relied on outside assistance to feed much of its population since a famine believed to have killed as many as 2 million people in the 1990s.

Malnutrition, dysentery, and vitamin and iodine deficiency are believed to pose serious risks among children in the country, which also faces a shortfall of hospitals and lacks an efficient state health care system.

Read the full stories here:
WHO chief arrives in North Korea on rare visit
Associate Press (Taiwan Times)

NKorea launches telemedicine network with WHO help
Associated Press (via Washinton Post)
Kim Hyung-Jin


RoK improving health care in DPRK

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

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


DPRK acknowledges spread of swine flu

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

UPDATE:  According to AFP:

South Korea is preparing to ship medical supplies worth more than 15 million dollars to help North Korea fight an outbreak of swine flu, officials said Monday.

The unification ministry, which handles cross-border ties, said the shipment would include antiviral drugs for 500,000 patients — Tamiflu for 400,000 and Relenza for 100,000 — and sanitation supplies.

The aid will cost an estimated 17.8 billion won (15.3 million dollars), which will be financed by a state fund for inter-Korean cooperation, it said.

Spokesman Chun Hae-Sung said Seoul would send the shipment as soon as possible, and definitely by the end of the year. But the North, which had accepted the offer, had not yet set a firm date.

The drugs shipment will be the first direct South Korean government aid since relations soured last year, although Seoul has funded assistance to Pyongyang through private groups.

North Korea Wednesday reported nine cases of (A)H1N1 in the capital Pyongyang and the city of Sinuiju bordering China. No death toll was given.

Observers say the virus could pose a particular threat to the North because of malnutrition amid persistent food shortages and a lack of drugs such as Tamiflu.

Good Friends, a Seoul-based welfare group with cross-border contacts, quoted an unidentified Sinuiju city official as saying more than 40 people had died of the swine flu in the border city alone.

The World Health Organization, however, told Yonhap news agency that all nine North Korean patients have recovered.

Yonhap quoted Suzanne Westman, coordinator of outbreak alert and response at the WHO’s New Delhi office, as saying no additional cases were reported in the isolated communist country.

The first of the patients, all children aged between 11 and 14, was discovered on November 25 and the last case on December 4, she said, adding that three of the infections were in Pyongyang with the other six in Sinuiju.

“All contacts have been identified, put in isolation and treated,” she told Yonhap, adding that North Korea had a solid surveillance system and a sufficient number of physicians is believed to be able to handle the outbreak.


Anti-A/H1N1 Flu Campaign Intensified

Pyongyang, December 9 (KCNA) — New Influenza A/H1N1 broke out in some areas of the DPRK amid the growing of its victims worldwide.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, nine cases were reported from Sinuiju and Pyongyang.

The relevant organ is further perfecting the quarantine system against the spread of this flu virus while properly carrying on the prevention and medical treatment.

The State Emergency Anti-epidemic Committee has taken steps to enhance the role of prevention and treatment centers at all levels and increased checkup stations across the country while directing efforts to the medical treatment of its cases.

According to Yonhap:

The World Health Organization (WHO) is working “closely” with the North Korean government to help stem the spread of an Influenza A outbreak there and assess the scope of flu infections among North Koreans, a WHO spokesperson said Wednesday.

North Korea said earlier in the day that it has confirmed nine domestic cases of H1N1 virus infections. The highly infectious disease may be particularly dangerous to the North Korean people, who are mostly undernourished and may have weakened immune systems.

“We are working closely with the (North Korean) government to see what is required and if they need any assistance from WHO,” Aphaluck Bhapiasevi, a WHO spokeswoman on the H1N1 pandemic, said over the telephone.

Bhapiasevi also said there are likely more cases of the H1N1 virus than announced, as people who have mild symptoms are not tested.

“In any country, there may be more cases than have been laboratory-confirmed,” she said. “They may not reflect actual number of the cases.”

In May, WHO provided 35,000 Tamiflu tablets each for North Korea and about 70 other underdeveloped countries to help fight possible outbreaks. Seoul officials say the North would need millions of tablets to safeguard its 24 million people.

Through its office in North Korea, the world health body has been making “preliminary assessments” of the scope of the outbreak, she said. “We have been discussing support that would be required.”

According to the AP, the DPRK will accept ROK assistance as well:

North Korea agreed Thursday to accept medicine from South Korea to fight an outbreak of swine flu, a Cabinet minister said, in a development that could improve relations between the nations after a deadly maritime clash.

“Today, the North expressed its intention to receive” the medical aid, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek told reporters.

North Korean state media reported Wednesday that there were nine confirmed swine flu cases in the country. South Korea plans to send the antiviral Tamiflu to the North, Health Ministry spokesman Lee Dong-uk said, without giving specifics.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said South Korea plans to send enough doses of Tamiflu for about 10,000 people. It cited a government official it did not identify.

The move came two days after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak offered unconditional aid to North Korea to help contain the virus — the government’s first offer of humanitarian aid since Lee took office in early 2008 with a hard-line policy toward the North.

(h/t NK Leadership Watch)


North Korea deines epidemics

Friday, June 13th, 2008

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary 

North Korea has denied rumors that avian influenza or hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is spreading in the country, a radio report said on Tuesday [10 Jun 2008]. The North’s health authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there has been no single case of bird flu or HFMD reported to the authorities this year [2008]. The denial came in response to a report published a week ago by South Korean aid group Good Friends, claiming that a mysterious epidemic suspected to be bird flu or HFMD has been spreading in North Korean towns bordering China. The disease has already taken the lives in recent months of many North Korean infants already suffering from malnutrition caused by food shortages, the group claimed, citing unnamed North Korean doctors in the border area.

WHO has rendered technical and monetary support to North Korea to help prevent possible bird flu outbreaks since the communist state was hit by the deadly disease in 2005. No new case has been reported since then. Jai Narain, the director for communicable diseases at WHO’s South East Asia office in New Delhi, was quoted as saying that the international body is working closely with the North Korean health authorities to prevent any potential bird flu outbreak and that Pyongyang has submitted related reports to the organization on a regular basis. The France-based OIE (Office International des Epizooties, World Organisation for Animal Health) also said that the North’s latest report to the office included no information or reports of any bird flu outbreaks, the radio reported. North Korea has inoculated poultry against bird flu to prevent the spread of the virus from neighboring South Korea, according to the North’s state-run news media. South Korea has slaughtered over 8 million birds since early April 2008, when bird flu broke out there for the 1st time in more than a year. But no South Korean has died of bird flu. HFMD, meanwhile, has struck over 10 000 people resulting in 26 fatalities, all of them children, in recent months, according to Chinese media reports.)