Pyongyang opens to the NGOs fighting tuberculosis

The president of the Eugene Bell Foundation announces new spaces for cooperation with the North Korean authorities.  In 2017, over 130,000 North Koreans were infected, with 16,000 deaths.  However, there is no agreement with the Global Fund, which should finance part of the project.


Seoul (AsiaNews) - North Korea has agreed to expand projects against tuberculosis carried out by the Eugene Bell Foundation, a Christian-inspired charitable organization based in the United States and South Korea. This was announced by Stephen Linton, president of the  Foundation, during a press conference called to report on the latest mission of the group members in the North.

The group's volunteers - including Catholic priests - spent three weeks among North Korea's TB patients in September.  Now the commitment will increase: "Local government authorities have helped us develop our TB diagnosis program even in areas outside the capital.  We are now free to register and treat patients in designated areas, without government control. "

According to the World Health Organization, in 2017, around 130,000 North Koreans were suffering from tuberculosis.  In the same year, more than 16 thousand people died of this disease: "An official of the North Korean Ministry of Health - added Linton - said that the first, second and third problem of the country is the TB".

The fundamental problem concerns the economy.  Choi See-moon, one of the board members of the Foundation, explains: “Pyongyang has not yet fully agreed with the Global Fund for the resumption of funding for the medical sector.  But this delay could lead to the lack of essential medicines and equipment for the care of the sick ”.