Physicians in Pyongyang’s People’s Hospital No. 2 wearing masks. (Rodong Sinmun)
N. Korea begins annual inspection of hospitals in the provinces
“Hospitals have launched campaigns to at least tidy up the sanitary state of the interiors and exteriors of their buildings in response to the announced inspections,” a source told Daily NK
By Jong So Yong
North Korea recently informed authorities in the country’s provinces that the Ministry of Public Health will begin hospital inspections on Sept. 13, Daily NK has learned.
A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that the Ministry of Public Health carries out two inspections every year, one in the first half of the year and another in the second half of the year.
“This year, however, the inspection for the second half of the year started late as it was delayed due to the maximum emergency epidemic prevention system,” he said.
According to the source, North Korea ordered the inspection for 15 days starting Sept. 13. Prior to this, the authorities notified that they would be conducting cross-inspections, with health officials from North Hamgyong Province going to Yanggang Province and health officials from South Pyongan Province going to North Pyongan Province.
The source said the latest inspection breaks with the previous practice of sending only Ministry of Public Health officials from Pyongyang.
Instead, the inspection order calls for “inspection teams composed half of guidance officials from the Ministry of Public Health’s headquarters in Pyongyang, and half of leading provincial health officials with insight into conditions on the ground.”
The inspection will reportedly issue concrete evaluations of how far local hospitals have come in terms of medical standards since last year.
Those evaluations will be based on:
- How well provincial hospitals are supplied with basic medical necessities;
- How well their operating rooms and emergency rooms are equipped;
- How many doctors have clinical experience;
- Whether doctors took proficiency exams in the first half of the year;
- How many academic papers doctors published
The inspection will also take a close look into the state of their inpatient and outpatient care, prescriptions, diagnoses and treatments during the first half of the year, in line with the country’s policy of providing free medical care and preventive medicine.
In particular, inspectors plan to scrutinize hospital responses during the 91 days of the maximum emergency epidemic prevention system, including their treatment of COVID-19 cases and distribution of medications and general statistics regarding deaths, quarantine cases, suspected coronavirus cases and fever cases.
The inspection will also carefully evaluate how much progress hospitals have made with traditional Korean medicine, which is a priority of the government.
The source said the authorities “plan to use the inspection to underscore the importance of the role played by legal medical institutions and verify whether [hospitals] are carrying out activities in line with the Workers’ Party desire to build the state’s quarantine capacity.
“The Ministry of Public Health warned that it would use the holistic results of the inspection to strictly determine whether public health officials are [behaving] responsibly or irresponsibly, and would hand down stiff punishments for shortcomings during general reviews,” he added.
This has reportedly frightened every hospital in Yanggang Province, leading to worries that they will get in trouble during the inspections.
“The hospitals have launched campaigns to at least tidy up the sanitary state of the interiors and exteriors of their buildings in response to the announced inspections, even if nothing much will change,” the source said.
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