To prepare well for inter-Korean cooperation in the healthcare sector, South Korea needs to collect more statistics about North Korea’s healthcare situations, a report said.
The leaders of South and North Korea agreed in Pyongyang last month to strengthen cooperation in the areas of quarantine and healthcare to prevent the influx and spread of infectious diseases, including taking emergency steps. Before beginning cooperative projects, the South should study more about how the North’s medical system operates, the report noted.
Korea Bio-economy Research Center, a think tank of the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization, published the report titled, “Status of North Korea’s Healthcare System,” on Tuesday.
“North Korea has been unable to provide state medical care since the collapse of the medical system in the mid-1990s. The country is poorly managing infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, and the health condition of North Korean people is getting worse, along with general weakness, anemia, poor growth and lack of immunity,” the report said. “They are exposed to infectious diseases due to the lack of immunization.”
Moreover, North Korean hospitals are poorly equipped with essential medicines, with disinfectants and anesthetics nearly absent, the report said.
The report also pointed out that the North was experiencing an expansion of the non-official healthcare market. Physicians do not provide medicine for TB patients but let them buy it in marketplaces, the report said.
Before seeking inter-Korean cooperation in healthcare, the South should identify the precise status of the healthcare situation in the North, the report emphasized.
“The South needs to study how the scientific advances under leader Kim Jong-un will affect the healthcare sector. It also has to observe changes in treatment experiences and paid treatments at newly constructed hospitals,” the report said.
Recently, the North has begun renewing secondary and tertiary hospitals and building new large hospitals in and around Pyongyang, according to the report.
The authorities are also expanding the production of pharmaceutical goods and medical consumables, standardizing healthcare facilities and expanding Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facilities, purchasing non-official medical services in markets, and localizing medical equipment, the report said.
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