[IWAR] N KOREA Medical shortage

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Mon Dec 08 1997 - 09:56:18 PST

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                 Patients are dying in North Korea from medical shortage
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press
       HONG KONG (December 7, 1997 2:29 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) --
       People are dying in North Korea because of a shortage of medical
       supplies, and doctors are forced to perform surgery without anesthesia,
       a relief agency said Sunday.
       Dr. Eric Goemaere, director general of Doctors Without Borders, said
       hospitals and clinics in North Korea have "nothing to offer to the
       patients" because of the collapse of the medical system.
       Goemaere, just back from a weeklong visit to North Hamgyong, a province
       of more than 3 million people bordering China, said many patients are
       dying at home.
       "Because there have been no supplies to the hospitals for the past three
       or four years, the doctors have not been able to help and patients have
       chosen to stay at home to die," the group said in a statement.
       At a news conference, Goemaere said there are "no antibiotics, no
       antiseptics, only traditional herbal drugs."
       He said many people in the province were suffering from pneumonia
       because of the cold, and that diarrhea and skin diseases were also
       He also released a videotape of appendix surgery being performed without
       anesthesia on a young woman in a hospital in the southern province of
       The patient was tied to the operating table and dirty scissors were used
       instead of scalpels. The woman, who suffered great pain, died two days
       later of infection, Goemaere said.
       He said there were no reliable statistics on the number of people who
       have died because of the collapse of the medical system.
       His delegation visited four cities in North Hamgyong, the northern-most
       province, which Goemaere said is isolated from the rest of country.
       Two years of flooding and a drought this summer compounded years of
       chronic mismanagement of North Korea's collectivized agriculture system.
       Relief groups estimate that 1 million to 2 million North Koreans may
       have died of starvation.
       While the situation in North Korea is not like famines in Africa, where
       people have died directly from lack of food, U.N. officials say North
       Koreans are dying from disease brought on by food shortages and the
       collapsing health care system.
       Reckoning the scale of North Korea's problems has been difficult because
       the isolated, secretive communist country has not given relief workers
       access to all parts of the country.
       The group said there was no visible sign of widespread famine, but there
       were signs of food shortage in the country.
       "People are scavenging for the last grains of rice after the harvest has
       been taken in," it said.
       By RAYMOND CHOW, Associated Press Writer

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