On May 7, 2010, I wrote a blog entitled:
In it, I quoted Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, praising the state of health care in North Korea after a recent tour there.
Amnesty International has recently released a report entitled:
In it, the deplorable conditions within North Korea are described in horrifying detail. Margaret Chan has responded to this report by instructing her spokesperson to attack Amnesty International.
From the AP, July 16, 2010
The World Health Organization found itself Friday in the strange position of defending North Korea’s health care system from an Amnesty International report, three months after WHO’s director described medicine in the totalitarian state as the envy of the developing world.
Amnesty’s report on Thursday described North Korea’s health care system in shambles, with doctors sometimes performing amputations without anesthesia and working by candlelight in hospitals lacking essential medicine, heat and power. It also raised questions about whether coverage is universal as it — and WHO — claimed, noting most interviewees said they or a family member had given doctors cigarettes, alcohol or money to receive medical care. And those without any of these reported that they could get no health assistance at all.
The issue is sensitive for WHO because its director-general, Margaret Chan, praised the communist country after a visit in April and described its health care as the “envy” of most developing nations.
But whereas Chan had noted that North Korea “has no lack of doctors and nurses,” Amnesty said some people had to walk two hours to get to a hospital for surgery. Chan cited the government’s “notable public health achievements,” while Amnesty said health care remained at a low level or was “progressively getting worse.”
In Part 2 of this series, I will consider the validity of the assertions made by Margaret Chan’s spokesperson.