Archive for the ‘Eugene Bell Foundation’ Category

Cato Institute panel on DPRK

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This week the Cato Institute hosted a panel on North Korea.  Participants include:

Stephen Linton, Chairman and Founder, Eugene Bell Foundation
Karin J. Lee, Executive Director, The National Committee on North Korea
Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
Ted Galen Carpenter (Moderator), Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute

You can see a video of the panel discussion here.  It includes an interesting fundraising video by the Eugene Bell Foundation.

UPDATE: Tad at NKnews.org has a write up of the panel here.

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DPRK scales back humanitarian work

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Below are excerpts from the Financial Times:

Pyongyang has told Washington that United Nations World Food Programme [WFP] staff will be barred from distributing food aid after March. The Stalinist regime has also told US non-governmental organisations to leave this month, and rescinded permission for other humanitarian groups to visit, the Financial Times has learned.

In an agreement last year, the US agreed to provide North Korea with 500,000 tonnes of food. The WFP was responsible for distributing 400,000 tonnes, with a consortium of NGOs led by MercyCorps in charge of the remainder.

In recent months, however, after North Korea refused to allow sufficient numbers of Korean speakers to join the WFP team, Washington halted food supplies.

Pyongyang has responded by barring food aid workers from operating in the country. So far, the US has supplied 100,000 tonnes to the WFP, and another 70,000 tonnes to the NGOs, which has not been completely distributed.

A US State Department official said that while the US was satisfied with the number of Korean speakers who were allowed to join the NGOs, it was unhappy that the same situation was not true for the WFP, which is responsible for distributing 80 per cent of the food. In addition to MercyCorps, the other NGOs are World Vision, Global Resource Services, Christian Friends of Korea and Samaritan’s Purse.

The official said the US was also responding to North Korea blocking aid workers from conducting a nutritional survey, which was included in the agreement.

“US aid workers have enjoyed tremendous co-operation in the countryside from North Koreans and we hope the DPRK government in Pyongyang will allow them to continue to feed the hungry,” said a Senate aide involved in North Korean issues. “Food aid should be separated from politics.”

Even before the North Korean threat, WFP had been forced to scale back operations because of the break in US funding. The WFP has only received 4.5 per cent of its $504m budget for North Korean operations. A WFP spokesperson said 4.5m of the 6.2m North Koreans targeted under the programme were not receiving assistance as of December.

“WFP hopes that the US will review the humanitarian situation and that food shipments will resume soon,” the spokesperson added.

North Korea recently informed the US that Eugene Bell, World Care and Kirk Humanitarian – three other US NGOs operating in North Korea – would not be allowed to make visits that were already approved. Pyongyang told the US that the planned visits were being cancelled because of “recent developments”.

Nancy Lindborg, president of MercyCorps, said North Korea sometimes temporarily blocked NGOs from visiting. However, she added that she was “hopeful and confident” that the visits would resume. She said her consortium had a “good working relationship” with its North Korean partners.

Read the full article here:
N Korea-US distrust halts food aid
Financial Times
Demetri Sevastopulo
3/17/2009

Below: State Department Briefing, Mercy Corps Press Release
US State Dept press briefing
Robert Wood, Acting Department Spokesman
March 17, 2009

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say or to confirm about North Korea cutting off or saying it does not want U.S. food aid —
MR. WOOD: Yeah.
QUESTION: — and kicking out U.S. NGOs over an accelerated timeline?
MR. WOOD: Yeah, yeah. North Korea has informed the United States that it does not wish to receive additional U.S. food assistance at this time. And we will work with U.S. NGOs and their North Korean counterparts to ensure that food that’s already been delivered – excuse me, food that’s already in North Korea is distributed to the intended recipients. And one of the things I also want to mention is that we have aimed to implement the U.S.-DPRK food aid program according to the terms agreed to by the United States and the North Korean Government in May 2008.
And I will give you just a breakdown in terms of the amount of food aid that we have provided. The U.S. has delivered 169,000 metric tons of U.S. food to North Korea in 2008 and 2009. The last shipment of U.S. food aid, which was nearly 5,000 metric tons of vegetable oil and soy blend, arrived in North Korea in late January and is being distributed by U.S. NGOs.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) of that?
MR. WOOD: Of which one, the 5,000 metric tons? Yeah, I am sorry. I don’t have any – any value here. We can try and get that to you in the Press Office.
QUESTION: Could you say when you were notified of this and how you were notified?
MR. WOOD: I don’t know, but it was obviously communicated to us by the North Koreans. I don’t know how that was done, whether it was done through the New York channel or some —
QUESTION: (Inaudible)?
MR. WOOD: Yeah, I just – I don’t know.
QUESTION: Last week maybe?
QUESTION: Just a clarification?
MR. WOOD: Yeah.
QUESTION: You said it’s being distributed by U.S. NGOs or UN NGOs?
MR. WOOD: U.S.
QUESTION: U.S.
QUESTION: Of the (inaudible) metric tons, what is it of? Is it grain? Is it – what is it?
MR. WOOD: Well, I’ll have to get the specifics on it, but I refer to our last shipment of U.S. food, which was, you know —
QUESTION: Oil and soy blend.
MR. WOOD: That’s right. I don’t have that breakdown. We can certainly try and get that for you, Sue.
QUESTION: Okay. .
QUESTION: (Inaudible), are you disappointed in this?
MR. WOOD: Of course. Absolutely. I mean, this was a program intended to try to help get food to needy North Koreans, and we’re obviously disappointed in that. This, you know, does not help us implement this agreement that we reached with the North back in 2008, so —
QUESTION: Well, not only does it not help you implement it, it kind of – I mean, are they abrogating the agreement?
MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t have the actual text of the agreement, so I can’t say with absolute specificity that they’re in violation of it. But we have an agreement to try to deliver, you know, this food assistance, and now the North is saying they do not want to receive any more assistance. So you know, we’re concerned about it.
But the food that is there right now in North Korea, we’re going to work with U.S. NGOs, with their North Korean counterparts, to make sure that this assistance gets to the people who —
QUESTION: Can you be a little bit more explicit about why you’re concerned about it, why you’re disappointed?
MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, clearly this is food assistance that the North Korean people need. That’s why we’re concerned. You know, this humanitarian assistance that we provide to the North has nothing to do with the Six-Party Talks. This is about our true humanitarian concern for these people. And as you know, the food situation in North Korea is not a good one, and so we’re very concerned about it.
QUESTION: Did they give you any explanation why they won’t – they didn’t want any more?
MR. WOOD: They have just said that they do not want to receive any additional food assistance at this time. That’s about as far as they went.
QUESTION: But no reason was provided at all? Just a one-sentence note you got?
MR. WOOD: I mean, it’s – I don’t know if it was one sentence that was given to us, but you know, that was the bottom line. And that’s the most important part of this.
QUESTION: And when did they inform you?
MR. WOOD: It was, I think, over the last couple of days, I believe.
QUESTION: Robert, do you know what the accelerated timeline for the withdrawal of the NGOs will be?
MR. WOOD: I don’t know.
QUESTION: It was supposed to be the end of May.
MR. WOOD: Yeah, I don’t know. Again, probably the best folks to address that are the North Koreans.

Press Release by relief organizations:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 19, 2008                                                                     

STATEMENT OF NGO PARTNERS ON CESSATION OF FOOD AID PROGRAM IN THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA (DPRK)

Contacts:  Joy Portella, +1.206.437.7885, jportella@sea.mercycorps.org

March 19, 2009—The following is a statement issued by the NGO Partners that have been distributing food aid in the DPRK through a program supported by the U.S. Agency fro International Development (USAID). The NGO Partnership is led by Mercy Corps, co-led by World Vision, and includes Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services and Samaritan’s Purse:

This week, North Korean authorities have asked us to close the USAID-supported food assistance program that we have been operating since June 2008. Our joint team, dedicated to this program, will leave the DPRK by the end of March.
 
We are saddened by this decision, but are very proud of what the program has accomplished.  Working closely with our North Korean partner, we have ensured that food reached almost one million vulnerable children, pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly.
 
Each of our organizations has worked in the DPRK for more than a decade. We remain committed to assistance in that country, and our individual, on-going programs focused on health, water, sanitation and agriculture will continue as before.
 
The NGO Food Assistance program is part of a larger 500,000 metric ton initiative supported by USAID in which the World Food Program was to distribute 400,000 metric tons of food and the NGO Partners were to distribute 100,000 metric tons.  In the ten months of this program, 169,000 metric tons of food has been delivered to the DPRK, of which the U.S. NGOs have brought in 71,000 metric tons of food.  This food from NGOs has benefitted more than 900,000 people in the two north west provinces of Chagang and North Pyongan.
 
This has been a model program with unparalleled monitoring cooperation to ensure that food gets to those most in need. Our in-country staff of 16 people has worked closely with our North Korean partners.
 
The NGO food assistance program was scheduled to run until the end of May 2009. Until the end of the month, we will work with our North Korean partners to ensure a proper close-out.
 
We remain committed to helping the people of the DPRK to overcome hunger and improve their lives. The food program resulted from the tremendous humanitarian need in the DPRK. We will continue to work—as individual agencies and in cooperative partnerships—to address these needs. We hope the success of this program will serve as a model for the future.

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Working logistics for the Eugene Bell Foundation in North Korea…

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

…does not sound like very easy job based on the most in-depth media coverage of their operations published in the Washington Post.

The story portrays the sad state of the DPRK’s medical facilities and shows just how much local doctors struggle to serve their patients.  According to Eugene Bell Foundation Chairman Stephen Linton:

“I’ve seen doctors who tried to capture sunlight by reflecting it from a mirror,” [during surgery] he says.

By North Korean standards, [this] patient is fortunate. She’s been given a local anesthetic, which is rare in a country where surgeons routinely etherize patients, strap them down and try to finish the operation before they come to.

and  

Like most hospitals and care centers in North Korea, the facility employs a direct-fluoroscopy machine, an X-ray device that irradiates the patient from behind while the doctor examines an image projected on a fluoroscopic plate of glass between them. “The negative is the doctor’s retina,” says Linton, who frequently admonishes physicians for submitting themselves to the machines’ potentially fatal doses of radiation. Most physicians in North Korea use them regularly, and suffer the consequences. The radiologist at Kosong, for example, has receding gums and low hemoglobin, common signs of radiation sickness. Three of his colleagues have died over the years — one from radiation overdose, another from cancer and a third from tuberculosis.

But the toll poor infrastructure takes on the provision of good health care is only exacerbated by the difficulties the DPRK bureaucracy puts in his way:

Of the 36 NGOs that began operations in North Korea as famine gutted the rural population in the mid-1990s, all but a handful have left in frustration. And Linton is particularly demanding: He insists on delivering his supplies personally, lest they be diverted to another facility or end up on the black market. When government officials balk, Linton refuses to resupply the site. So each of his two resupply visits annually is preceded by lengthy and sometimes rancorous negotiations.

“They say they want to save wear and tear on the vehicles, so they need to cut our sites by a third. Fine. I’ll cut theirs as well. Mary, I’ll need a red marker.”

Most of the cancellations involve small sanatoriums in rural areas — the very sites his donors are so keen to support. Linton suspects his hosts want to avoid those facilities because, relative to the urban care centers, their poor sanitation makes them legitimately hazardous. And the wear-and-tear issue isn’t just a red herring. Spending days crisscrossing the countryside on unpaved roads takes a huge toll on the delegation’s fleet of SUVs — vehicles that, between Linton’s visits, the ministry is allowed to use for its own purposes. In resource-starved North Korea, even government officials must barter to replace broken fan belts and transmissions. The last thing the bureaucrats want is to risk losing a precious automobile.

Linton is also apparently given a curfew when he is required to be back at this guest house in Pyongyang.

It seems Tuberculosis is running rampant at the moment:

South Korean sources suggest that tuberculosis has affected as much as 5 percent of North Korea’s population of 23 million. Linton estimates the Eugene Bell Foundation has treated up to 250,000 patients, 70 percent of whom might have otherwise died.

The whole article is well worth reading.

Donations can be made here.

The full article can be found here:
Giving Until It Hurts
Washington Post
Stephen Glain
3/9/2008, Page W16

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Launch of Support Program for North Korea’s Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Patients

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Eugene Bell Foundation
Fall 2007 newsletter

Medical Support for Individual Patients Now Possible

The Eugene Bell Foundation, a non-governmental organization that provides medical support for North Korean tuberculosis (TB) patients, announces that countermeasures are urgently needed for the recent increase of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients in North Korea.   

After years of visiting and providing TB medicines for TB Care Centers in North Korea, EugeneBell estimates that over 30% of all TB patients in the country may be infected with MDR-TB. Evidence suggests the number of patients is increasing year-by-year.  

In response to this growing crisis, the delegation visited six different North Korean TB Care Centers in early 2007 and collected sputum samples from 20 patients thought to be infected with MDR-TB and brought them to South Korea for study. The test results identified at least two or more strains of MDR-TB virus in over 60% of the samples.   

In response, EugeneBell began a support program for MDR-TB patients when a delegation returned to North Korea (November 15 – 27, 2007). This fall, a follow-up delegation delivered a six-month supply of special MDR TB medication for the patient’s diagnosed with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.  

As part of the new support program, EugeneBell and North Korean medical authorities have agreed to establish special wards for multi-drug resistant patients in four long-term care facilities. One center will be located in each of the following locations: North Pyongan Province, South Pyongan Province, Nampo City and Pyongyang City. These MDR wards will serve as centers for treating patients who do not respond to regular tuberculosis medications.

“Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a deadly, contagious disease that can spread resistant strains of tuberculosis that are extremely difficult and expensive to treat,” states Dr. Linton, EugeneBell Chairman. “Because MDR-TB threatens the health of every citizen, steps must be taken as soon as possible to meet this challenge.”

Unfortunately, even short-term countermeasures to meet the spread of MDR-TB in North Korea are difficult because no in-country testing facilities are available today. An even greater barrier to an effective national MDR program is the high cost of MDR medications. While it takes only six months to treat and cure a case of ordinary TB, MDR-TB requires at least 18 month, and special drugs that cost nearly 100 times as much as regular tuberculosis medications. In order to solve such difficulties, EugeneBell will initiate a ‘One-by-One MDR-TB Patient Support Program’ beginning in 2008.  This program will connect one patient in North Korea with individual donors to insure that each patient in the program receives the necessary support for long-term treatment.

Dr. Linton notes, “This small but significant start toward an effective MDR-TB program for people in North Korea that will begin with 20 patients and grow as additional support becomes available. Every human life is precious. While we hope we can eventually reach all MDR patients in North Korea, just saving one person who would otherwise die from this dreaded disease is well worth the effort.”

“North Korean medical professionals are delighted with the new program. Doctors who formerly had no effective way of helping their patients who failed to respond to ordinary tuberculosis medications now have hope that even the most ill tuberculosis patient may be saved. The enthusiasm with which they pitch in to collect sputum samples from their most difficult cases is heart-warming” continues Dr. Linton.

Dr. Park Seung-kyu, Director of Masan National Tuberculosis Hospital in South Korea, will make his hospital’s state-of-the-art research facilities available for testing sputum samples from North Korea. “As a matter of fact, MDR-TB is considered a serious problem not only for North Korea but also for South Korea and the world,” says Dr. Park. “There is a need for experts from both South and North Korea to discuss countermeasures together for the treatment of MDR-TB on the Korean Peninsula”

A EugeneBell delegation just returned from visiting thirteen medical institutions located in North Pyongan Province and Pyongyang City. Next spring, a follow-up delegation will deliver medications for the patients who provided samples this autumn.

EugeneBell also started two other pilot programs in 2007, one for mothers and infants and another for school-aged children. These will provide a steady stream of assistance through ‘Mother and Infant Packages’ and ‘Children’s Health Packages’ to three local hospitals, one in North Pyongan Province and two in South Pyongan Province.

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Eugene Bell Spring Trip to North Korea

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Eugene Bell Foundation (Hat tip D.”S.”B.)
207 C Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003   
TEL: 202-393-0645   
FAX: 202-543-2390
For more information:
Alice Jean Suh; alice@eugenebell.org;
+1-202-329-2410

EugeneBell Returns from 2007 Spring Visit to North Korea Initiates Maternal and Infant Care and Children’s Care Programs

The Eugene Bell Foundation earlier this month visited 17 medical institutions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and launched two groundbreaking community health projects targeting the country’s most vulnerable groups: new mothers and infants, and school-aged children.  From May 1-12, EugeneBell’s chairman, Dr. Stephen Linton, and four delegation members visited city, district, and county medical institutions in North Korea’s South Pyongan Province. All 17 institutions received shipments of assistance as part of EugeneBell’s Partner Package Program 

New Maternal and Infant Care Program and Children’s Care Program

EugeneBell confirmed the new programs’ first deliveries of instructional materials, equipment and supplies at two local hospitals in Sunchon and Anju, cities in South Pyongan Province. These new programs will be implemented in three steps to ensure transparency. Our delegation received agreements from the medical staff at both institutions to implement the first step, with the understanding that progress to the second and third steps will require proof of adherence to EugeneBell’s standards on further visits. These new programs signify groundbreaking advances in EugeneBell’s work. In addition to providing training, equipment and supplies for entire institutions, these programs have also tailored assistance to individual patients. For the first time, EugeneBell will partner with doctors at the most basic level of care in North Korea’s system. All citizens in North Korea are assigned family care physicians. EugeneBell’s new programs will strengthen the ability of family doctors to treat individual patients more effectively and transparently.  “I am very excited about this new opportunity to help insure that pregnant women receive the best care possible from early pregnancy through child-birth,” said Dr. Linton. “We hope to help North Korean caregivers manage child health from the womb all the way through grade school, the most critical period for human development.”  The initial phase of these two new programs received an enthusiastic welcome from hospital staffs. EugeneBell plans to extend this effort to other local hospitals as funding becomes available.

Equipment and Training Upgrades for Local Hospitals Dramatically Improve Local Healthcare

During this visit the delegation was able to evaluate the effectiveness of a program to upgrade diagnostic and surgical capacity at seven out of 40 plus medical facilities supported by EugeneBell. The delegation was impressed at the level of technical sophistication achieved by North Korean caregivers after receiving comprehensive training manuals last year. Through self-study North Korean technicians had, in a surprisingly short time, mastered the use of complex diagnostic equipment and had even made minor repairs.  “It was very impressive,” said Dr. Linton, “to see North Korean technicians operating advanced equipment previously unfamiliar to them. More impressive was the level of cooperation between hospitals that had received the same equipment. When we first started this program, these hospitals were empty because patients had little hope of receiving adequate treatment.  Now that they have new equipment, previously empty hospitals are filled to capacity. Patients wait in line to be examined by the new equipment. “It’s worth the effort to watch these hospitals come back to life.”

Support for Children with Tuberculosis

On this visit the delegation found a new emphasis on treating children with tuberculosis. Several new children’s wards have been established to provide better care for young patients in South Pyongan Province, Nampo City and Pyongyang City. Children are particularly at risk of tuberculosis when their immune systems are weakened by poor nutrition. In response to the new emphasis on childhood tuberculosis by North Korea’s health authorities, EugeneBell will include a system for providing assistance directly to young patients this fall.

Medical Institutions Visited

During May 1st – 12th EugeneBell visited 17 North Korean medical institutions in: South Pyongan Province and Nampo City, South Pyongan Province Tuberculosis Hospital (TBH), Children’s Ward-South Pyongan TBH, South Pyongan Province Children’s Hospital, Anju City Tuberculosis Care Center (TBCC), Pyongsong City TBCC, Bukchang County TBCC, Sunchon City TBCC, Daean County TBCC, Ryonggang County TBCC, Anju City People’s Hospital, Sunchon City People’s Hospital, Daean County People’s Hospital, Chollima County People’s Hospital, Nampo City TBH, Nampo City TBCC, Waudo District People’s Hospital, Hanggu District People’s Hospital 

Total Results of Support in Spring 2007: $ 1,793,717.21 This spring EugeneBell shipped a total of $1,793,717.21 worth of medical goods to 45 medical institutions in North Pyongan Province, South Pyongan Province, Pyongyang City and Nampo City.  

EugeneBell in Action

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1. New mother and infant at the Anju City People’s Hospital, part of EugeneBell’s new Maternal and Infant Care Program.

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2. Children in Anju City being given health physicals, part of EugeneBell’s new Children’s Care Program.

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3. Grade school students are examined at a mobile X-ray vehicle donated through EugeneBell to Nampo Tuberculosis Hospital.

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4. Dr. Linton interviews a young patient at the Children’s Tuberculosis Ward at Nampo Tuberculosis Care Center.

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5. A patient is examined with a sonogram donated through EugeneBell at Daean People’s Hospital.

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6. Dr. Linton (left) delivers medical supplies and equipment to Chollima People’s Hospital in South Pyongan Province. In the spring of 2007 EugeneBell shipped almost 1,800,000 dollars of medical assistance to 40 odd medical facilities.

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7. Through EugeneBell donors sent 2,200 sets of Patient Necessities Kits to long-term patients in sixteen tuberculosis care centers. EugeneBell does everything possible to identify donors to recipients.

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Eugene Bell provides health support

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

From the Eugene Bell Foundation: 

Public health officials from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) today visited Washington, DC to attend a private conference on tuberculosis. The five-person Korean delegation was invited by the Eugene Bell Foundation, an American faith-based organization that provides essential support to one-third of North Korea’s tuberculosis system.

The conference, hosted by the George Washington University graduate schools of medicine and public health, focused on including local communities in the global effort to fight multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

The Korean delegation is scheduled to travel throughout the United States this week to visit tuberculosis experts, national centers and research labs.

For more information, please contact:
Alice Jean Suh
Washington Office Director, Eugene Bell Foundation 202-329-2410 alice@eugenebell.org

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