Eugene Bell medical director works with North Korean doctors and nurses

Why MDR-TB?



Why Focus Exclusively on MDR-TB?

“Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is the number 1, 2, and 3 biggest health emergency in North Korea”

– Official from North Korea’s Ministry of Public Health.

What is TB?

TB – a bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs and spreads through sustained contact between people living or working in proximity – has been a scourge of humanity for millennia. Fragments of the spinal column from Egyptian mummies show clear signs of the disease.

Today, TB has been mostly banished from the developed world aside from pockets of vulnerability among impoverished communities in cities such as London. But it remains one of the greatest public health risks in many low and middle-income countries.

Efforts to tackle the disease are being complicated by the rise of multidrug-resistant strains (MDR-TB) – a consequence of poor management of existing medicines by doctors and poor compliance by patients. Special treatments are available to overcome MDR-TB but they are costlier, slower to take effect, have more severe side effects, and have lower success rates for patients..

What Are the Details In North Korea?

Growing Threat

North Korean medical authorities are witnessing an increased number of patients testing positive for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. This airborne, infectious disease that has a history of spreading rapidly in Russia, India, and Africa has North Korea’s Ministry of Public Health extremely concerned.

Last Hope

EugeneBell’s multidrug-resistant tuberculosis program is the only large-scale provider of treatment in the country.  Given the lethal nature of the disease, if we do not treat someone who tests positive for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, there is little hope for their survival.

High-Impact Solution

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients have to remain isolated from their families and communities because of the high risk of infection and the difficulty of treatment.  Curing a patient of this disease means reuniting parents with their children, wives with husbands; in other words, healing whole families and communities.