중앙데일리

North seeks medicine, even if expired for a year

July 11,2007
A letter from a Red Cross hospital official in North Korea did not mince words. “We welcome any donation of medicine, even if its expiration date has passed,” the official said.
Moon Kyung-tae, vice chairman of the Seoul-based Korea Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, said yesterday the official sent the letter through a civic group, Unification Affairs Research Institute, in February.
The North is willing to take medicine that has expired for up to a year, Moon said, and also was willing to accept responsibility for any problems that might arise.
However, Moon said, “We just cannot do that.”
The association sends about 5 billion won ($5.4 million) worth of medical aid packages to the North every year, but the amount is not nearly enough for what is needed.
In 2005, the South provided support to build pharmaceutical factories in the North, but the facilities could not operate properly due to water and electricity shortages.
The country is extremely vulnerable to epidemics. In October, scarlet fever, which can be treated by taking three pills a day for 10 days, broke out in the North. A significant number of children and the elderly died because they lacked the proper medicine, sources well-informed about the North’s situation said.


By Kim Young-hoon JoongAng Ilbo [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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