News / Asia

Report Details Dire State of North Korea's Health Care System

TEXT SIZE - +

A new report on the state of health care in North Korea says the sick are inadequately treated because hospitals are barely functioning. The report also blames widespread malnutrition for outbreaks of disease.

Amnesty International paints a dire portrait of North Korea's health system in its new report, released Thursday. The rights group contends the state fails to provide even the most basic health and survival needs for its people.

"Supplies, such as syringes are used and re-used, sometimes with very little care for hygiene," said Norma Kang Muico, an Amnesty International researcher. "And there's such a shortage of medicines that surgeries are often performed without the aid of anesthesia or not enough anesthesia to control the pain."

North Korea: Looking Inside

An audio and pictorial look inside the Communist country

The organization says its information comes from health professionals who work in the reclusive country and 40 North Koreans now living abroad. The interviewees reported malnutrition has caused chronic health problems, with the hungry resorting to eating grass, roots and tree bark. The report also says that tuberculosis has made a comeback in the country.

North Korea's government says health care is free. But the Amnesty International report says in reality citizens have been paying for medical tests and surgeries since the 1990's. Doctors expect to receive cigarettes, alcohol or food for consultations.

The World Health Organization says North Korea spends the least on health care compared with any other country - less than one dollar per person annually.

The communist North Korean government controls most aspects of the economy. But a combination of mismanagement, natural disasters and the loss of support from former communist states has pushed the economy to near collapse. Pyongyang has relied on foreign aid for more than a decade to feed its people.

Amnesty International says the grave situation in North Korea means it is crucial that donor countries not make aid decisions based on political considerations. The group contends that for North Korea's public health infrastructure to improve it will need substantially greater international assistance.

Amnesty International researcher Muico acknowledges that many donors worry that their contributions to North Korea do not reach those most in need.

"The better and more effective way to address this concern is not to refuse [to give] humanitarian aid but to give to the relevant U.N. agencies and other humanitarian organizations working on the ground and to support them in their efforts to gain greater access and to obtain more robust monitoring of the delivery of the aid," she said.

The organization says under North Korea's international commitments, it is required to provide adequate food and health care to its population and to seek outside assistance if it cannot meet those needs on its own.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid