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Science  29 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6396, pp. 1380-1382
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6396.1380

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  • RE: Global Fund withdraws funding for medicines and diagnostics in North Korea amid a growing tuberculosis crisis
    • Taehoon Kim, Co-Founder and Executive Director, DoDaum
    • Other Contributors:
      • Taeyoung Kim, Co-Founder, DoDaum

    On February 21st, 2018, The Global Fund quietly announced the closure of its grants for tuberculosis and malaria in North Korea by June 30th. (1) As many others have suggested, this will undoubtedly result in the suffering of many battling these diseases. (2, 3) Yet the significance of this decision regrettably reaches far beyond the health of such patients –– it will pose a significant strain on the already frail healthcare system, struggling to contain the rise of other infectious diseases.

    DoDaum is a non-profit organization that has for the past four years worked in partnership with North Korea’s Ministry of Public Health to create the first-ever HIV treatment program. Since September 2017, we have implemented this initiative to confront the rising HIV prevalence in DPRK. (4–6) Throughout the implementation, government officials have repeatedly voiced concerns of the possible and, even likely, public health crisis should HIV and tuberculosis continue to become more prevalent. To realistically avert a humanitarian crisis given the significant resource constraints and its frail healthcare system, they are considering implementing austere measures such as quarantines and imprisonment of patients - not out of outright disdain for human rights, but out of fear and self-preservation.

    Global Fund’s decision to suspend its grants lacks sufficient justification and is, ultimately, shortsighted. Why? It will unwittingly result in the adoption of such austere public...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.