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Int J Health Plann Manage. 2009 Apr-Jun;24(2):113-29. doi: 10.1002/hpm.958.

An approach to health system strengthening in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea).

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Nossal Institute for Global Health, Carlton VIC, Melbourne, Australia.



The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), undertook the development of a Health System Strengthening (HSS) proposal through the support of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). The aim of this paper is to outline the approach to the development of the HSS strategy in DPRK, and describe opportunities and challenges associated with its development and future implementation. Sources of information for this review have included national programme plans, in country social sector reviews, information generated through HSS proposal developments and the international literature.


Updated assessments in DPRK indicate some recent improvements in the health situation for women and children, but there remain ongoing concerns regarding health management, human resource and physical infrastructure barriers to health services access. In response to this situation, the DPRK developed a health system strengthening strategy, the main elements of which are the strengthening of health management and service delivery systems at the implementing agency levels of county (district) and Ri (sub district). Three success factors were associated with the reaching of consensus on HSS strategy in DPRK. These were partnerships formed between system planners and programme planners, the identification of an overall health sector strategic framework, and high-level leadership of the MOPH.


Although DPRK is in the very early stages of health system reconstruction, there are significant and new opportunities to alleviate the health conditions of women and children in DPRK, through implementation of health system strengthening strategies that are nationally coordinated and internationally supported.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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