Scratch beneath the propaganda-covered surface of North Korea and you’ll find that there’s far more to the world’s most secretive state than its public image of strict regime, controlled media and elaborate military parades.Read more...
North Korea - Health and safety
The Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, or the Three Principles Monument, in Pyongyang © Eric Lafforgue, www.ericlafforgue.com
with Dr Felicity Nicholson
Medical facilities in North Korea as a whole are basic, particularly in the rural areas. Hospitals and clinics in the latter are usually able to offer only the very minimum medical care. Clinical hygiene is poor, anaesthetics are frequently unavailable, and the electricity supply to the hospitals (even in the capital) can be intermittent. You should try to avoid serious surgery if you can. Take with you any medication you think you are likely to require because supplies are limited and very difficult to buy. Tourist sites may offer medical facilities.
The only requirement for vaccination is for a yellow fever vaccine for travellers over one year of age entering North Korea from a yellow fever endemic area. There is no actual risk of disease in North Korea. With regard to other vaccinations it is wise to be up to date with diphtheria, tetanus and polio (ten-yearly), hepatitis A and typhoid. Vaccinations for rabies are ideally advised for all travellers as it is unlikely that North Korea will have all the treatment needed to protect against developing rabies. This is even more important for those visiting more remote areas as it will take even longer to reach help.
There are no reciprocal health care agreements with Britain, so ensure that you have comprehensive medical insurance and that you carry adequate supplies of any prescribed medication that you usually take.
Travel clinics and health information
A full list of current travel clinic websites worldwide is available on www.istm.org. For other journey preparation information, consult www.travelhealthpro.org.uk (UK) or wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ (US). Information about various medications may be found on www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel. All advice found online should be used in conjunction with expert advice received prior to or during travel.
Petty theft has happened from hotels and other accommodation, so be sure to keep your valuables and passport in safe keeping at all times. Incidents of other crimes against foreigners are very infrequently heard of. Take out full insurance coverage for health, belongings and flights, and cash to cover the trip because the ability to get hold of emergency funds is negligible.
Bring all medication that you need and don’t expect to get hold of any with any ease in the country. Some form of ID is needed at all times. Visit www.fco.gov.uk for up-to-date advice. Children and babies on tours have been very well looked after, but under no circumstances should anyone, especially children and babies, drink the tap water. Travellers with disabilities have also been well tended to.