Democratic People's Republic of Korea

In 2019, MSF teams returned to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), when we launched a general healthcare and tuberculosis treatment programme.

We are helping to improve TB diagnosis and treatment at two TB hospitals in North Hamgyong province, in the north of the country, by supplying equipment, and providing training, with a view to commencing direct medical activities in 2020.

Our teams are also working to strengthen general healthcare at health facilities at county and community level, with a focus on paediatrics, support for the management of children with malnutrition, sterilisation of medical equipment and infrastructure improvement.

We have supported the DPRK Ministry of Public Health’s preparedness to respond to a potential outbreak of COVID-19 by providing personal protective equipment and diagnostic items.

Our activities in 2020 in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.

MSF in DR Korea Activities planned by MSF in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) largely stalled in 2020, due to border closures triggered by the pandemic.
Map of MSF activities in 2020 in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In January, DPRK completely closed its borders to people and most cargo – the first country in the world to do so – and implemented a strict lockdown. This took a heavy toll on the economic and humanitarian situation.

The border closure meant that MSF’s programme in North Hamgyong province was effectively put on standby. During the year, the team maintained regular contact with national authorities to discuss strategies for resuming medical activities as soon as possible. The programme was launched in late 2018, with the aim of strengthening general medical care and improving treatment, diagnosis and management of patients with tuberculosis (TB). The programme supports two TB hospitals in the province, a general hospital at county level, as well as a smaller healthcare facility at community level. Unfortunately, the commencement of direct TB activities planned for 2020 was not possible due to the border closure.

In March, we were granted a sanctions exemption by the UN to deliver a cargo of COVID-19 supplies, including personal protective equipment, diagnostic materials and antibiotics (for any associated infections), following a request by the DPRK authorities.


Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Aid workers warn of North Korea's forgotten health crisis

Project Update 21 Jul 2005

Urgent appeal for the protection of North Korean refugees in China

Press Release 20 Jan 2003
Democratic People's Republic of Korea

North Korea - Aid meant for the hungry

Press Release 16 May 2002
Democratic People's Republic of Korea

The humanitarian situation and refugees in North Korea

Project Update 2 May 2002
Democratic People's Republic of Korea

MSF calls on donors to review their aid policy towards DPRK

Press Release 30 Sep 1998