Objectives : The most frequently cited health related slogan in North Korea is that socialistic medicine is preventive medicine. It implies that North Korea puts preventive medicine at the operational center of its national health care system. This study aimed at examining and comparing preventive medicine practices in North Korea with those of South Korea. Methods : Efforts have been made to obtain a textbook for analysis its contents. Many people have iassisted in the study by joining the interview. Some of these people are as follows : a former professor of PyongYang Medical School, NK physicians living in South Korea, WHO staffs, diplomatic officials, etc. The major items of analysis consisted of industrial medicine and hygiene, nutrition, school health, epidemiology, health statistics and heath policy & management. Results : Public health philosophy is finely noted and well integrated in the operation of the North Korean national health care system, particularly in the area of industrial medicine and hygiene. Preventive medicine with a strong health surveillance system spanning a number of broad social organizations is a major tool to improve the health of the people in North Korea. The emphasis on preventive medicine has a close relationship with the 'Juche Philosophy' and the shortage of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. To cope with the shortage problem, North Korean health workers are encouraged to grow medicinal herbs. We have found that they put little effort into teaching newly emerging diseases, such as AIDS, VDT syndrome, hazards of EMF, and agricultural chemical poisonings. Of the subjects of the preventive medicine text, 78.9% coincide with those of South Korean industrial health manuals and 34.2% with South Korean epidemiology texts. However, an absolute difference was found to exist between the health policies and management systems. Conclusion : In North Korea, the concept of preventive medicine functions as the basic philosophic strategy of the national health care system. It differs greatly from the South Korean system in both practice and educational content. Its contribution to society is simply incomparable to that of South Korea. More communication and further study is called for in order to improve the preventive medicine practices in the future.
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