N. Korea orders all internal reserves focus on production of medical supplies

In June of this year, N. Korea’s state media claimed that the country’s Koryo medicine factories were engaged in efforts to produce enough product to meet demand. (Rodong Sinmun – News1)

North Korea has ordered that all internal reserves be applied to the production of medical supplies, Daily NK has learned.

North Korea appears to be focusing its energy on producing the supplies needed to combat infectious diseases following the hardships caused by the lack of such supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that the State Planning Commission, the Ministry of Chemical Industry and other relevant bodies had been instructed this month to mobilize all available methods, resources and internal reserves to maximize production of the medical supplies that are urgently needed for treatment of patients.

More specifically, the source said, North Korea ordered that thorough measures be taken in line with government plans to ensure the production of materials — including liquid caustic soda, butanol, sodium bicarbonate, acetic acid, phosphoric acid and barium chloride — that are critically needed for the manufacture of medical supplies each month.

The North Korean authorities have also spoken of adopting stringent measures to meet the material and technical needs of preventive programs so as to improve medical care in the public health sector and of mobilizing all internal reserves and capabilities to maximize production of the medical supplies that are desperately needed for treating patients.

North Korea also ordered the Ministry of Public Health and people’s committees in each province, city and county to acquire dozens of herbs including black atractylodes rhizome, white atractylodes rhizome, angelica, bellflower, Sophora flavescens, Epimedium koreanum, Astragalus propinquus, goji berries and Solomon’s seal to prevent interruptions in the planned production of traditional medicines.

Significantly, the Ministry of Public Health bureau in charge of regulating the production of traditional medicine is reportedly planning for the production of yeongsinhwan, paedoksan and other effective supplements for general use that are made with locally grown herbs to be increased by at least 5% from current levels by Party Foundation Day on Oct. 10.

In step with these plans, people’s committees in each province, city and county are working to acquire the herbs needed for producing traditional medicines, and factories in Yanggang Province have been sending teams into the woods to gather herbs since Sept. 5.

“On from local people’s committees, officials from public health centers are following into the factory teams that are going to pick herbs, but they’re unlikely to have much success,” the source said.

In the city of Hyesan, the police are sending out inspectors to enforce a ban on sales of herbs in markets and individual homes, and the Ministry of State Security is also searching vehicles that pass through No. 10 checkpoints for herbs, the source said.

“The Ministry of Social Security and the Ministry of State Security are making a fuss about searching for herbs even though nobody is picking or transporting them because smuggling has been completely halted every year since the outbreak of COVID-19,” the source said.

“They sit on their hands until they get orders from on high, and only then do they jump into action. That’s no way to get work done,” he added.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to daily nkkenglish@uni-media.net.

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