To the Global Fund: North Koreans need malaria and TB drugs!
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The suspension of Global Fund grants, and the absence of any coherent exit strategy, is likely to lead to massive stock outs of quality-assured tuberculosis (TB) drugs nationwide. This will directly affect over 100,000 people living with TB and will lead to increased incidence and drug resistance.
Malaria was on track to be eliminated in North Korea, with the WHO reporting decreasing cases four years in a row. In 2017, less than 5000 cases were reported, showing a clear pathway for elimination in the near future. This success was largely due to Global Fund investment. The sudden suspension of Global Fund activities will likely contribute to a resurgence of malaria, with implications for neighboring provinces in South Korea.
To avert such a public health and humanitarian crisis, we respectfully request the following: a full account of The Global Fund's process in reaching the decision; a description of the conditions that would need to be met to resume the projects; and, if the conditions are not able to be met, then the continuation of the projects until an alternative source of funds is secured.
The goal of these requests is to ensure a continuous supply of quality-assured TB and malaria medications for North Korean patients.
For more details, please read Kee Park, Uzma Khan and KJ Seung's open letter to the Global Fund in the Lancet.
And Richard Horton's article on the case for Health Diplomacy in North Korea.
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