Democratic People's Republic of Korea
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.
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.
The protracted closure of DPRK’s borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have led to a sharp deterioration in the medical humanitarian situation in the country. Although needs increased significantly, the restrictions made it virtually impossible for aid organisations to provide assistance in 2021. The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) programme in North Hamgyong, which we launched in 2018 to improve general healthcare and tuberculosis (TB) treatment, was on standby throughout the year.
In 2021, although unable to run activities on the ground, we began to supply technical and scientific materials to guide and strengthen the diagnosis and treatment of multidrug-resistant TB in the country. This support, in response to a request from the Ministry of Public Health, included providing guidance for the use of new drug treatment regimens for drug-resistant TB and management of TB infection. MSF medical stocks remaining in Pyongyang, potentially useful for COVID-19 preparedness and ongoing medical care, were donated for use.
We maintained an ongoing dialogue with the DPRK authorities both within the country and through embassies, and coordinated with other NGOs and academics to better define MSF’s approach and priorities should the borders reopen. Following this consultation, the team identified TB and food insecurity support as the most likely relevant focus areas for the future programme. We are also exploring possible ways of supporting the programme remotely in discussions with the authorities.