N. Korea needs assistance for drug-resistant tuberculosis: Aid group

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유진벨 재단 인세반 회장, "北 결핵퇴치 시급, 국제사회 함께 노력해야"

One of the key subjects that still needs to be addressed when it comes to North Korea,... is medical assistance.
According to a foundation that works closely with the regime in terms of humanitarian aid,... tuberculosis is a highly serious issue, even more so than malnutrition.
Park Hee-jun takes a closer look into the situation. One thing North Korea needs desperately, but which has received too little attention,... is medical assistance.
The Eugene Bell Foundation has been working with Pyongyang since the 1990s to fulfill the humanitarian needs of the North Korean people.
The foundation aims to eradicate tuberculosis, which has become resistant to drugs,... a dire issue that requires international attention.

"Tuberculosis is North Korea’s number 1, 2, 3 biggest health challenge. I think it far outstrips any other disease, and arguably even concerns for malnutrition, because it’s an air borne infection. And it can go dormant and become active decades after someone actually contracts it."

An estimated 8-thousand North Koreans contract multi-drug resistant TB every year.
The foundation has been treating about 15 percent of them, and the Global Fund 5 percent -- which leaves some 80 percent unaccounted for.

But at present, there's not much that can be done.
Global organizations have had to pull out of North Korea amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the enforcement of international sanctions.

"The latest sanctions, for instance, prohibits metal, and a lot of states have interpreted that as anything that contains metal. So the latest sanctions have thrown the whole series of normal regular humanitarian related items in to question. And some organizations are just not willing to take that risk."

If tuberculosis isn't treated, it will only spread.
Regardless of the obstacles that now exist, Dr. Linton believes that humanitarian problems like TB should not be sidelined by politics.

"If they have a serious, life-threatening humanitarian issue that you can deal with in a transparent manner,... making your treatment of that particualar problem, subject of their political consideration on their part, I think, is out of line. So there should be a dual track system, where basic needs are met regardless of political or military tension."

And according to Dr. Linton,... North Koreans are very determined to go ahead.
He says humanitarian assistance is likely to bring great benefits to them,... much more than the easing or lifting of economic sanctions.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.
News & Politics

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