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Humanitarian aid group calls for Seoul's support in eradicating tuberculosis in N. Korea Updated: 2019-10-18 04:17:42 KST

Tuberculosis, which is known as the "disease of the poor", is one of the most serious and contagious diseases in North Korea.
The Eugene Bell Foundation, a non-profit organization, has been providing support and treatment to TB patients in North Korea for 24 years.

"In its bid to eradicate tuberculosis in North Korea, the foundation has been visiting the North every year to provide specialized support to those in need."

At a press conference in Seoul on Friday, the chairman of the Eugene Bell Foundation, Doctor Stephen Linton, citing World Health Organization research in 2017, said more than 130-thousand new cases of TB are reported and 16-thousand die from the disease every year.
He said that unlike last year, after the foundation's visit in North Korea last month, the regime allowed the foundation to expand its program outside of Pyeongyang.

However he said that there has been little improvement in recent years in terms of humanitarian issues.

"Although there have been many political changes lately as the two Koreas and the U.S. had some summits, there has been little improvement in the issue of separated families and much of the food and medical aid from South Korea was restricted. Also, the global fund that fights AIDS, TB and malaria in North Korea stopped providing support."

Linton stressed that it is necessary to separate humanitarian assistance from politics.

"Life-threatening humanitarian issues should be dealt with separately as basic human needs should be met regardless of the political situation. In that sense, help is needed from South Korea, from both the public and private sectors, to seek ways to support North Korea."

Linton also suggested creating a private fund in South Korea for humanitarian assistance to the North.
Eum Ji-young Arirang News.
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