Good cooperation in North Korea

Cap Anamur supports two hospitals

In August, Cap Anamur director Bernd Göken travelled again to North Korea, accompanied by Annette Hildebrand and Jürgen Maul. The doctor and logistician work there in two hospitals for two months. “Confidence in a productive cooperation had increased after food aid in the past year, so that we are allowed to get involved for longer periods,” explains Bernd Göken.

During his previous visits he established important contacts that are very helpful now. All necessary permits were granted quickly, however the conditions to work and help in North Korea are quite complicated. For example, mobility is rather restricted and we are accompanied by an embassy employee at all times.

Since the beginning of the year we have been planning the new project, and now work has started in the hospitals in Haeju, a city on the west coast and roughly 140 kilometers south of the capital Pyongyang. The current state in the two hospitals does not allow adequate medical care: there is enough qualified personnel, but essential medication such as broad-spectrum antibiotics or strong painkillers is not available. Most of the medical devices are outdated or broken and there are too few medical disposables such as sterile bandages and cannulas. And even food for the patients is not  sufficient, not to mention baby food. As a result, doctors are often unable to help their patients, although universal health care is in principle free of charge. Hence Cap Anamur sent containers with the absolutely essential equipment and medication to the country.

In a first step our long-time employee Jürgen Maul took care of the distribution of the medication and devices to the hospital – not a straightforward task for a total of three containers with aid supplies. Together with the hospital employees he now puts ultrasonic devices, electrocardiograph machines, oxygen concentrators and patient monitors in operation and builds surgical lighting and laboratory facilities. As power supply is intermittent, we also set up large generators to power the most essential devices. In addition, hospital buildings are renovated.

Health professional Annette Hildebrandt exchanges experiences with the local colleagues. They are very dedicated and motivated, but lack current expertise. The Stuttgart native instructs doctors and nurses in the use of the medical devices and provides training courses for examination methods and methods of treatment. It is remarkable that our doctor was allowed to also treat patients herself. So far, an in-depth professional exchange with the North Korean doctors and nurses has rarely been possible. They are highly motivated to expand their knowledge and exchange ideas.