Two Koreas agree to disease-fighting plan

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Two Koreas agree to disease-fighting plan

Both Koreas agreed Wednesday to launch a pilot program by the end of this year to share information on contagious diseases.

The agreement was reached during an inter-Korean health meeting at the joint liaison office in Kaesong, just north of the border that separates the two countries. It was the latest follow-up to the Pyongyang Declaration signed by both South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their third summit on Sept. 19. In that agreement, both sides agreed to “strengthen cooperation in the areas of prevention of epidemics, public health and medical care, including emergency measures to prevent the entry and spread of contagious diseases.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first time in 11 years that South and North Korean officials convened to discuss health-related issues. The most recent inter-Korean health meeting was in Dec. 2007, shortly after then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun held a summit with former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Oct. 4.

According to a joint press statement issued by the South’s Ministry of Health and Welfare on Wednesday, both Koreas will share information on contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria, and ways to prevent their spread while enhancing technological cooperation.

Both sides will also cooperate to resolve working-level issues through the exchange of documents.

South and North Korea will also “actively cooperate” to carry out broad medium to long-term projects on quarantine efforts and health care cooperation, the joint press statement said.

The South Korean delegation for Wednesday’s health meeting included Kwon Deok-cheol, vice minister of health and welfare; Kwon Jun-wook, director general of the Bureau of Public Health Policy at the Health Ministry; and Kim Byung-dae, director general of the Humanitarian Cooperation Bureau at the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations.

The North’s side was represented by Pak Myong-su, president of the State Sanitary Inspection Board under the Ministry of Public Health; Pak Dong-chol, a deputy director of the Public Health Ministry; and Pak Chol-jin, an official from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.

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