Monday, February 19, 2007

Measles Epidemic in North Korea

A heartbreaking reality has been discovered. There has been four deaths in North Korea and at least three thousand others infected with measles. Mind you, it is very difficult to be sure if the numbers are truly that low. Remember the bird flu that originated in China? They sure would rather keep their problem a secret than to ask for assistance.

Here is an article by CNN:
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) -- A measles epidemic has hit North Korea, causing at least four deaths and infecting some 3,000 people, the Red Cross said.

Measles has been found in 30 North Korean counties since the outbreak started in November 2006 [?], the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement obtained on Tuesday.

"The continued presence of the measles is accompanied by a risk of increasing cases and the further spread of the illness to other parts of the country," it said.

North Korean health authorities notified the Red Cross, World Health Organization and other international bodies of the outbreak last week and the impoverished state requested 5 million doses of measles vaccine, it said.

Reclusive North Korea allows some U.N. agencies to operate within its borders.

In November, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said North Korea could be facing a scarlet fever pandemic.

"Measles remains a leading cause of death among young children, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine for the past 40 years. An estimated 345,000 people, the majority of them children, died from measles in 2005," the World Health Organization says on its Web site), adding almost all the deaths occurred in poor countries.
Hmm...this is odd. I tried to look up the World Health Organization or North Korea or Measles, and guess what? I could not find the sites cited by CNN. I will also provide you with an article from the region, and you may discern for yourself which is more credible:
A measles epidemic has claimed at least four lives and infected about 3,000 people in North Korea, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Monday.

The federation said in a statement that measles has been found in 30 North Korean counties since the outbreak started in November last year.

It added that four deaths were reported on Jan. 4 when two children and two adults died from measles and its complications such as pneumonia. Around 3,000 North Koreans were confirmed to have infected with the disease.

Pyongyang has asked international organizations for massive doses of vaccine to prevent further spread of the epidemic.

The North has requested 5 million doses of measles vaccine to immunize its citizens aged from seven to 45.

The requested doses cost $1.5 million, and North Korea will pay the costs for transportation, distribution and staff training.

UNICEF is expected to lead the immunization campaign and keep the related organizations informed of developments.

North Korea's Ministry of Public Health confirmed the measles epidemic last Thursday, and the information was immediately discussed in a joint meeting the following day by the North Korean Red Cross, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

The federation said the disease was initially believed to be rubella. The first identification of measles came on Nov. 6 in the northern region of the country.

It added that the communist country has failed to bring the epidemic under control and the disease spread throughout the country.

The WHO supplied Pyongyang with testing kits in January, but there were constraints because North Korea was thought to have eradicated the disease in 1992.

The country's health care workers were thus not familiar with the disease, the federation pointed out.

Korea Times
This sounds more like it! The Asian people do not like to discuss openly with the world problems they have at home. They believe it makes them look weak or out of control. If only we could convey to them that disease is the only thing in the world that truly does not discriminate! Maybe one day...

Labels: , ,