Sunday, November 13, 2011

North Korea Struggling to Fight Epidemic of Drug-Resistant tuberculosis - 13th Nov 2011

North Korea is grappling with a strain of the deadly lung disease tuberculosis that is resistant to conventional treatment. Humanitarian workers say the impoverished communist country, which already has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis outside of sub-Saharan Africa, is unable to cope with the outbreak. Most victims could die of the disease within years. But some help is coming from an outside foundation.

The disease is known as multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis. It resists treatment by the two most powerful front-line TB drugs.

Stephen Linton, chairman of the Eugene Bell Foundation in Seoul, recently returned from North Korea, which he has visited nearly 70 times for humanitarian work since 1979. "North Koreans have told me that tuberculosis is their number one, number two and number three primary public health concern," he said.

Conditions in North Korea are ideal for the spread of TB. The climate is cold. Most citizens live and work in small spaces, and lack proper nutrition to maintain a strong immune system.

Linton says his foundation is now primarily focused on combating the multi-drug resistant TB outbreaks in North Korea. Read More