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Why are N. Korea’s agricultural areas seeing a rising mortality rate?

The mortality rate in North Korea’s agricultural areas is more than three times than that in urban areas, according to a source inside the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in South Pyongan Province reported that the first-quarter death statistics released on May 11 by the public health bureau of the provincial people’s committee showed that the death rate of rural residents was more than three times that of urban residents.

Disease was by far the biggest killer, with tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease, influenza, cerebrovascular disease, liver disease, septic shock and hypertension topping the list.
In particular, the death rates for tuberculosis, liver disease and septic shock have increased. According to local health experts, these are “common diseases in rural communities where people have weakened immune systems due to malnutrition from lack of food and poor sanitation.

But while all of North Korea suffers from an antiquated medical system, conditions in rural communities are even worse. “Given the large elderly population in rural communities, poor nutrition, and primitive sanitation, it’s natural that rural villages have a much higher mortality rate than cities,” the source said. “Rural women look older and die faster.”

Even though most of the diseases that are the biggest killers in rural North Korea are preventable or treatable, they cause the death rate to rise because the authorities fail to manage them properly.

Currently, most of North Korea’s public health and medical resources go to Pyongyang, provincial capitals, and other major cities, creating a health gap with the countryside, where local residents do not receive adequate health services. The ruling party now promotes a policy of actively sending medical school graduates to the countryside to increase the number of rural doctors, but even rural medical school graduates would rather die than be sent to the countryside.

North Korea’s ruling party only pays lip service to “developing rural communities” while taking no action to close the wide gap between policy and reality. So what is the solution?

First, the authorities must elevate the role of provincial medical facilities, especially clinics and village hospitals. Above all, they must send usable medical facilities and medicines, as well as capable doctors. They must provide sufficient conditions for doctors to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the health of farmers. They must provide medicine and facilities for doctors in rural clinics and village hospitals, instead of simply telling them to do their duty and demanding their loyalty.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

May 21, 2024 at 12:00PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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