Pyongyang, North Korea – The health dilemma remains a nightmare for the ordinary people of North Korea. Recent reports from foreign doctors, defectors and aid workers paint a dark picture about the health problems in that country. They describe the horror story of amputations performed without anesthetic. The shocking story about repeated reuse of dirty needles, and beer bottles used as IV drips on patients. Intermittent electricity and no running water, result in the use of candles to illuminate the area for the doctors to carry out routine procedures. The surgeons operate with outdated equipment and medical supplies received from Russia decades ago.
North Korea has a health system that has crumbled over the past few decades into a chronic failure. It’s a health care system that results in children suffering from stunted growth due to a severe food shortage. Infant deaths jump higher each year, and tuberculosis is a ravaging disease claiming many lives. In the rocky mountain terrain, the small clinics become non-operational as the temperatures plummet below zero. Electricity and running water is hard to find in these dense areas, and we can only imagine the devastation among the citizens. Bad roads and lack of transportation make it difficult for many to access health centers.
Two of the biggest child killers are diarrhea and pneumonia, and this country lacks the basic health infrastructure and hygiene to reduce this crises. The rising tensions in the country have resulted in a drastic reduction of support from donors, and the United Nations recently reported a lack of funding for the North Korea operation. There is a scarcity of drugs and vaccines for children and pregnant women.
The deepening poverty and deterioration in public health care have resulted in the shocking increase of deaths. Hunger remains the biggest health problem, and it is reported that two thirds of the population do not have enough to eat. The malnutrition of the citizens of North Korea is of immense concern The impact of international sanctions against the country has made it difficult to import medicine and supplies.
Pyongyang will experience further isolation as the government continues with its nuclear ambitions. This will result in humanitarian aid being affected as it gets more difficult to supply the medication and food aid to a countrycontrolled by military dominance. The government and health officials will not admit the truth about the devastating health crises and have recently upgraded one of their main hospitals in Pyongyang.
They recently allowed visitors to partake in a tour of the facility. A healthy hospital system, sparkling floors, clean crisp linen on beds, hi-tech videos, and telephones for monitoring purposes and the wooden railing replaced with stone. The visitors are taken on a tour of a newly built Brest Cancer Research Center, displaying high-tech machines for mammograms, radiation and ultrasound. The cost of this equipment is unknown but clearly a plot to conceal the real situation in that country.
This is the government propaganda machine that twists reality to suit its needs. This is the picture the reclusive government paints for the outside world to see. A picture portraying a government in control and able to withstand the international sanctions, when in fact the North Korean health care systems remains a dilemma.