The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has a backlog of over 40,000 people with cataract blindness.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), also known as North Korea, shares a border with China to the north and a border with the Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea, to the south.
In recent years, international sanctions have been imposed against the DPRK in response to the government's program to develop nuclear weapons as well as other military actions. Malnutrition is a major health issue for adults and children due to ongoing food shortages.
The Foundation has been working with Nepal's Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since 2006.
In collaboration with DPRK government health authorities, we are helping to clear the huge backlog of cataract blindness in the country by holding intensive surgical workshops, donating equipment and intraocular lenses, and training local health professionals to carry out high volume cataract surgery.
By supporting Nepal's TIO program work in the DPRK, The Foundation:
- Supported two surgeons to travel to Nepal for training in small incision cataract surgery
- Donated 4,000 intraocular lenses and $56,185 in medical equipment for cataract surgery in hospitals and outreach camps in rural areas.
About the program
Currently only 50 ophthalmologists in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have the capacity to perform quality small incision cataract surgery, even though there are approximately 970 eye doctors and 660 eye nurses in the country.
Inadequate skills, systems and surgical equipment mean the country’s health system cannot deal with the high demand for cataract surgery, resulting in a large backlog. The Foundation’s support in DPRK is focused on building up the skills and ability of ophthalmic personnel, and providing the equipment that is needed to conduct greater volumes of surgery.
Working through our partner the TIO, The Foundation has been collaborating with the DPRK Ministry of Public Health, the Korean Federation for the Protection of Disabled and selected national and provincial hospitals in the DPRK to address the growing problem of avoidable blindness.
Facts and figures
|Number of blind people||89,900|
|Main cause of blindness||cataract (approx 50%)|
|Prevalence of blindness||1%|
|Backlog of cataract blindness||44,900|
|Life expectancy||69 years|
|Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births)||26|
|Number of doctors (per 10,000 people)||33|
|Children (0-5years) underweight for age||19%|
Sources: In the late 1990s, the World Health Organization reported these eye health statistics for DPR Korea, Health Situation in the South-East Asia Region 1994-1997, WHO SEARO, 1999, WHO, UNDP Human Development Report 2013
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