Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Common Questions Asked About Dongdaewon

How do we know the North Koreans don't misuse the money?
Eugene Bell send NO money to North Korea.  The money raised buys medicine.  Each patient has sputum samples taken to find out which drugs they are resistant to.  A drug program is then tailor made for that specific patient, giving them the drugs that they will best respond to.

Aren't We Supporting Something That Is In Breach of UN Sanctions Against North Korea?
The work of Eugene Bell is not in breach of UN sanctions against North Korea and has been able to continue in spite of these.  For a more detailed statement about this, check here.

How do we know that the patients get their medicine?
Eugene Bell run a strict monitoring program and insist on visiting each centre (currently 12 centres) that they work with.  They look at all patient records.  Each centre gets a list of the supplies coming and all supplies are checked.  Each patient knows what they should get as well.  Each patient is tested every six months - if they do not take their medicine, they will not get well.  Additionally, each patient is photographed which helps identify patients and provides a visual record of how they are doing.  The fact that patients are graduating from the MDR program, cured of TB shows that they are getting their medicine.

Why don't we send clothing and other supplies?
There are limits to what things can go into North Korea.  The North Koreans can get clothing. However, medicine is in extremely short supply and this is what there is a desperate need for.

Why don't we treat regular TB patients when they are so much cheaper and we could help more people?
Since 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to providing  first line TB treatment in the form of DOTs meds for North Korea.  MDR is a growing concern.  Eugene Bell currently have over 1000 MDR patients on their books, with many more people desperate for treatment.  This is currently where the need is greatest.

Eugene Bell have enough money.  Why do we still support them?
At every center Eugene Bell visits there are people desperate to get on a MDR treatment program because they have failed DOTs treatment multiple times.  Recently, North Korea have reached out for help to expand the MDR program.  For every patient that EB accepts, they have to guarantee coverage of medicine for the life of treatment, which could be two to three years.  This can cost around $USD5000 per patient.  It is heartbreaking to have to take some patients and leave others because there are not the resources to provide for medication.  MDR continues to grow and EB is one of the few organizations successfully working with this problem in North Korea.  The more resources they have, the more patients that can be treated.  Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to leave a clinic knowing that you could help all those who needed it?!  

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