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South Korea to ship anti-malaria aid to North

world Updated: May 02, 2007 12:42 IST
AFP
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South Korea on Wednesday will ship medical and other supplies worth 1.41 million dollars to help North Korea fight malaria.

A freighter carrying supplies including anti-malaria medicines, insecticide, test kits and mosquito nets will leave Incheon port in the afternoon for the North's western port of Nampo, the state-run Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The aid would help some five million residents in three provinces near the inter-Korean border fight the disease, it said in a statement.

The centre said it has financially supported the North's anti-malaria campaigns for six years, with annual aid rising from 530,000 dollars in 2001 to 1.13 million dollars last year.

The number of malaria patients in the North has declined sharply to 9,353 last year from 241,190 in 2002, it said.

There have also been outbreaks of scarlet fever, typhoid and measles in recent months in the reclusive communist state, where medicine is in short supply and years of malnutrition have weakened resistance to disease.

UN relief agencies said last month they and the North's authorities had completed a programme to vaccinate more than 16 million people against measles, after an outbreak which killed four and infected 3,600.

Since December South Korean private groups have shipped penicillin and antibiotics to North Korea, saying scarlet fever and other communicable diseases are spreading fast.

Famine starting in the mid-1990s killed hundreds of thousands of people. North Korea has received major foreign food aid since the mid-1990s but its citizens still suffer persistent food shortages.

The World Food Programme has warned that it faces a food shortfall of one million tonnes this year, a fifth of its needs.

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