North Korea: Fighting Covid wit traditional medicine

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Fri, 20 May 2022 Source: www.bbc.com

North Korea dey struggle wit di spread of Covid in an unvaccinated population, wey no get access to effective anti-viral drugs.

For early 2020, di country seal im borders to try to insulate itself from di pandemic.

Im leadership so far don reject outside medical support.

And state media don recommend traditional treatments to deal wit wetin dem refer to as "fever".

Hot drinks

For those wey no dey seriously ill, ruling-party newspaper Rodong Simnun recommend remedies wey include ginger or honeysuckle tea and a willow-leaf drink.

Hot drinks fit soothe some Covid symptoms, like sore throat or cough, and help hydration wen patients dey lose more fluid dan normal.

Ginger and willow leaf dey also relieve inflammation and reduce pain.

But dem no be treatment for virus imsef.

Salt water

State media recently interview one couple wey recommend gargling wit salt water morning and night.

Dem don send a "thousand of tonnes of salt" to Pyongyang to make an "antiseptic solution", di state news agency bin report.

Some studies suggest gargling and nasal rinses with salt water combat viruses wey dey cause di common cold.

But little evidence dey say dem slow of spread of Covid.

Mouthwash fit kill di virus for di lab, one study found.

But e no dey convincingly bin shown to help in humans.

Covid dey mainly caught by inhaling tiny droplets for di air via di nose as well as di mouth, so gargling attacks only one point of entry.

And once di virus don enter, e replicate and spread deep into di organs, wia no amount of gargling fit reach.

Painkillers and antibiotics

State television don advise patients to use painkillers such as ibuprofen as well as amoxicillin and odaantibiotics.

Ibuprofen (and paracetamol) fit bring down temperature and ease symptoms such as headache or sore throat.

But dem no go clear di virus or prevent it developing.

Antibiotics, meant for bacterial infections not viruses, no dey recommended.

And using antibiotics unnecessarily risk developing resistant bugs.

Laboratory research suggests some fit slow di spread of some viruses, including Covid.

But dem never replicate for di real world.

And one study of di antibiotic azithromycin find say e make little or no difference to Covid symptoms, di likelihood of hospital admission or death.

Some approved drugs dey to to prevent pipo wit Covid ending up in hospital:

But dia effectiveness dey variable.

Health system

North Korea's health system bin dey set up to offer free medical care from basic services at village level up to specialised treatment for goment hospitals (usually for urban centres).

But di economy don contract for recent years sake of sanctions and extreme weather such as droughts.

Closing di country's borders and strict lockdown measures go don also get damaging impact.

Particularly weak outside Pyongyang, di health system dey thought to suffer shortages of personnel, medicines and equipment.

One report for di UN, last year, say: "Some of di pharmaceutical, vaccination and medical-appliance plants no reach di level of good practice of di WHO [World Health Organization] and no meet local demand as well."

Plenti North Korean defectors to South Korea don tok of having to pay for medication or finding treatment and drugs limited to privileged members of di ruling party.

But state media say dem don dey increase production now.

International aid

North Korea turn down three million Chinese-made doses, last year - and reportedly reject oda offers - under Covax, di global vaccine-sharing scheme.

South Korea say e no get reply to imoffer of vaccines, medical supplies and personnel.

North Korea bin reportedly recently send three planes to collect medical supplies from Shenyang.

Dis no include "anti-pandemic supplies", di Chinese foreign ministry say, but e dey "ready to work wit North Korea… for di fight against di coronavirus".

Source: www.bbc.com
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