Wednesday, May 23, 2007

North Korea allows Catholic TB Aid

I came across an article from today that noted that North Korea has finally allowed a Catholic aid organization to have access to pediatric tuberculosis hospitals. As a Global Public Health concentration, I find this extremely interesting and quite important for the people of North Korea.

Tuberculosis is a major problem around the world, yet it does not recieve as much attention as it should due to other more "fashionable" diseases like HIV/AIDS, which gets lots of press (as it should!). However, TB is a major factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS, as a contracting either one of the diseases puts people at a risk of getting the other. The article notes that 10% of the North Korean population is affected by TB, a number which is sharply rising, and that 30% of these people are vaccine resistant, which requires special care and dedication to ensuring a person's health. Meetings were held to discuss a joint effort for TB study and research in Pyongyang, of which both Koreas would run and the Catholic Church would fund.

I think this research facility is a great idea. While politics, economics, and even culture can be seperated by borders, infectious disesases do not recognize political borders. By gathering the support of both Koreas, it will be a successful endeavor to address a pressing issue in global public health.

1 comment:

rfishel said...

What I find interesting within your description, besides the medical aid, is the fact that it involves a Catholic organization. I would think that a religious organization would have missionary objectives in addition to its humanitarian efforts. I did not notice a link to the article, so I am not sure if the religious aspect was addressed, but I am curious to find out the religious element of the aid. Furthermore, I think it would be interesting to find out how the North Korean government negotiated with this Catholic organization and what restrictions might have placed upon them. It seems that the government would require all contact with the population to be strictly medical. Although I am sure the Catholic organization would be happy to help in this way, I also sense that spreading Christianity might also be an important priority.