South-North Cooperation on Malaria Control in Korea

[CanKor is pleased to publish a paper written for us by Jae S. Hwang, Project Director of the Development Cooperation Project Division of the Seoul-based Korean Sharing Movement. The Malaria Control Project in the DPRK has been one of the few activities that has been permitted to continue its work in North Korea after the ROK Government suspended all humanitarian projects by South Korean NGOs active in the DPRK. The Malaria Control Project, which has been operational since 2008, is an excellent example of cooperation between an NGO and a regional government–in this case the Provincial Government of Gyeonggi Province, bordering the demilitarized zone on the South Korean side. As Mr. Hwang reports, this year the project has expanded with additional participation by the Incheon Metropolitan Government. Malaria had been eradicated in South Korea, but reappeared as a health threat in the 1990s because of inadequate medical resources on the northern side of the DMZ. We are pleased to present this exclusive report to CanKor readers. A few excerpts are found below. To read the full report, complete with pictures and charts, please follow the link to Malaria Control Project in the DPRK. –CanKor.]

Picture taken on 17 August 2010 at the South Korean CIQ (customs, immigration and quarantine). Just before leaving for a visit to Gaesung, Prof. Park Jae Won explains the project to the press. This was the first aid shipment to the DPRK that the ROK Government approved since the 5.24 measures. This explains the lively interest of the press. (Photo by KSM)

(…) Most cases of tertian malaria in South Korea occur in areas near the DMZ along the border of South and North Korea. Most outbreaks occur in the northern areas of South Korea, specifically northern Gyeonggi Province, northern Incheon City, and Kangwon Province, and in the southern areas of North Korea, including Kaesong and its vicinity, South Hwanghae Province and North Kangwon Province.

(…) Thus malaria is a problem that directly affects the health of people in both Koreas, and this is a case where maximum synergy can be achieved only when the strengths of North and South are combined. For this reason since 2008 KSM and Gyeonggi Province have been conducting the “Malaria Control Project in the DPRK,” which to date has treated 500,000 people from 130,000 households in the Kaesong Area.

This project has been conducted as a cooperative effort between KSM, which has years of experience in humanitarian aid work in North Korea and maintains solid communication lines with the North Korean side, and Gyeonggi Province, which boasts the largest provincial government organization in the country and provides for the full expenses of the project. Actual project implementation is done through close coordination and agreement between both groups.

This is not a new approach to North Korean humanitarian and development aid. Since early 2000 KSM has conducted numerous agriculture and livestock development projects in conjunction with various South Korean local governments. Since 2004 KSM has worked successfully with Gyeonggi Province on agricultural development projects at North Korean collective farms and integrated community-based development projects.

(…) In 2008, the first year of the project, the total of malaria patients in all of North Korea decreased 30% from 23,409 to 18,679. During the same period in northern Gyeonggi Province, which has the most malaria cases in South Korea, the number of malaria patients decreased about 50% from 1,007 to 490. Subsequently the numbers have continued to steadily decrease in the project’s focus area of Kaesong as well as in South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province.

(…) Our narrow goal is to eliminate malaria outbreaks from the Korean peninsula. But our broader wish is that we may once again enter a period of improved inter-Korean relations and active humanitarian and development aid such as we saw before 2008. Instead of malaria, we would like to see peace spread throughout our peninsula.

Please see the full report here: Malaria Control Project in the DPRK


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