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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

NGOs in Action: GAVI and Pentavalent Vaccination in North Korea

by | April 18th, 2013 | 07:00 am

We are introducing a new periodic feature on the blog called NGO’s in Action. Amidst all of the trouble, it is important to highlight the numerous groups that are seeking to do good work in North Korea, whether related to human rights, information, refugees or the massive humanitarian tasks facing the country. We cannot, of course, evaluate the work of these organizations. And difficulties in monitoring have led a number of prominent organizations to leave the country altogether over the years. However, the presence of NGOs on the ground is usually revealing of outside interest in the country and provides important information for conditions on the ground; we welcome suggestions.

Thanks to Nina Schwalbe, we were alerted to the work of the GAVI Alliance on vaccination. GAVI’s goal is to provide new and under-used vaccines in low-income countries, but also to stabilize funding for vaccination programs and to shape the vaccine market.

GAVI began operating in the DPRK in 2001, and funding vaccination programs from 2002.  The cash support to date—about $20 million in disbursements–goes through WHO and UNICEF offices in country.  The government gets and distributes the vaccines directly, with some co-financing (about $800,000 in the next 2012-2015 cycle, we expect in complementary services rather than cash).

The newest innovation: the roll-out of pentavalent vaccine in July 2012 which protects not only against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus—the standard DPT3 metric–but Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Hib causes bacterial meningitis and pneumonia and GAVI claims that routine use of the vaccine in other countries has led to virtual eradication of Hib disease.

GAVI Alliance’s North Korea page provides detail.   WHO North Korea page here; UNICEF page here. Our read-out on the most recent UNICEF nutrition–or malnutrition–survey.

NGOs in Action Posts:

The American Friends Service Committee

Wheat Mission Ministries

Global Resource Services

Welthungerhilfe (Agro Action)

National Endowment for Democracy: North Korea Funding