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HOME > Korean J Prev Med > Volume 23(4); 1990 > Article
Original Article Medical Technology of North Korea: with Special Reference to the Content Analysis of Medical Textbooks.
Seok Goo Lee, Hyeong Ryeol Yoon, Gi Hyo Lee, Ok Ryun Moon
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 1990;23(4):416-427
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School of Public Health Seoul National University, Korea.

Unfortunately, we have poor knowledge of medical technology in North Korea. This study has thus attempted to identify the level and status of medical technology development through analyzing the contents of medical textbooks currently in use. This study has assumed that three factors are influencing the level and status of medical technology in a society ; the level of socio-economic development in general, the level of scientific technology revolution and health policy. Forty textbooks are collected for this purpose. The main findings are summarized as follows: 1) North Korea has strengths in that (1) its herb drugs, which are in a broad use, are cheaper, more safe and more attainable than bio-equivalent chemical ones, and (2) the development of its medical technology was carried out with emphasis on the practical and basic health needs. 2) North Korea has weaknesses in that (1) its medical diagnostic method largely depends on manual procedures, (2) the R & D investment in the development of chemical drugs, especially antibiotics, is very small, (3) the amount of medical equipments is in a absolute shortage, and (4) the medical technology is destitute of specialty, caused mainly by the overemphasis on Juche-Uihak or herb medicine. 3) Medical technology has two faces, positive and negative so that it cannot be successfully evaluated by one. It eventually acts a positive function for public health through developments of drug, equipment and new medical treatment method. But it is also true that it has negative effects such as the dehumanization of high cost medical technology, cost hike due to over-investments in expensive equipments, and the absence of wholistic care from overspecialization. 4) We have to consider economic status and the social needs of medical care in order to evaluate the medical technology of a society. It is also the ease with North Korea. A whole picture of the North Korean medical technology could be understood only if further comprehensive studies of medical technology are to be carried out for North Korea.

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JPMPH : Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health