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U.S. nonprofit to deliver tuberculosis medicine to North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim
U.S. nonprofit to deliver tuberculosis medicine to North Korea
North Korea tuberculosis patients are to receive a new delivery of drugs and medical assistance, according to the Eugene Bell Foundation on Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. nonprofit that has supplied humanitarian aid to North Korea says it has received permission to travel to the North to deliver tuberculosis medicine.

The Eugene Bell Foundation is to travel to the North for three weeks, starting Tuesday, to deliver treatments for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, Yonhap reported.

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The foundation has previously distributed medicine and educated North Korean tuberculosis patients to prevent the spread of the disease.

The nonprofit team will visit all MDR-TB centers that receive its financial support, and is expected to work with North Korea's health ministry to make contact with North Korean physicians and patients.

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Plans include the registration of new patients and the delivery of six months' worth of multi-drug resistant drugs to the North, according to Yonhap.

The medicine must be taken continuously for 18 to 24 months. If the patient lapses in drug intake the cure is at risk of failure.

The Eugene Bell delegation will leave Pyongyang on Nov. 6.

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Stephen Linton, director of the foundation, said there are about 10 people in the delegation.

The humanitarian aid effort is being restarted at a time when the Trump administration is being criticized for discouraging humanitarian aid to the North.

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Keith Luse, the executive director of the National Committee on North Korea in Washington, D.C., said last week humanitarian aid has become the target of U.S. sanctions.

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"It has become clear that the Trump administration regards the provision of humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people as a legitimate target for its maximum pressure campaign. Indeed, a line has been crossed," Luse wrote.

"Officials are working through multiple channels in the Departments of State and Treasury to terminate engagement, including the denial of applications from U.S. passport-holders for permission to travel to North Korea for humanitarian purposes."

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