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Is Margaret Chan the Next Michael Moore?

Moore made some money making the movie “Sicko”, which extolled the virtues of the Cuban health care system, such as it is.  Margaret Chan might be trying to do the same for the North Korean one.

GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korea’s health system would be the envy of many developing countries because of the abundance of medical staff that it has available, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, speaking a day after returning from a 2-1/2 day visit to the reclusive country, said malnutrition was a problem in North Korea but she had not seen any obvious signs of it in the capital Pyongyang.

No, nothing to see here, as long as you look where we say you can, and only in the “obvious” places.  But it gets better.

North Korea — which does not allow its citizens to leave the country — has no shortage of doctors and nurses, in contrast to other developing countries where skilled healthcare workers often emigrate, she said.

This allows North Korea to provide comprehensive healthcare, with one “household doctor” looking after every 130 families, said the head of the United Nations health agency, praising North Korea’s immunization coverage and mother and child care.

“They have something which most other developing countries would envy,” Chan told a news conference, noting that her visit was a rare sign of the communist state’s willingness to cooperate with outside agencies.

See?  All we really need to do is seal the borders, and we’d have the best healthcare in the world!  We could solve the illegal immigration and health care issues with one stone.  Then we’d be the envy of the developing world, and be complimented during the rare times we talked to anyone on the outside.  (Hey, that solves our “lost our standing in the world” problem, too!)

Chan spent most of her brief visit in Pyongyang, and she said that from what she had seen there most people had the same height and weight as Asians in other countries, while there were no signs of the obesity emerging in some parts of Asia.

But she said conditions could be different in the countryside.

News reports said earlier this year that North Koreans were starving to death and unrest was growing as last year’s currency revaluation caused prices to soar.

And that’s how you solve the obesity problem; centrally control the economy to invoke food shortages and starve your people!  It just seems so simple.  (And I gotta’ wonder if Jonathan Lynn, the Reuters news service writer, had a grin on his face as he deadpanned that last paragraph.)

Chan, who described her visit as “technical and professional” — in other words avoiding politics — said the North Korean government’s readiness to work with international agencies, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was encouraging.

The Global Fund requires countries it works with to provide sound data, account for resources contributed and allow access by officials, she noted.

“I can confirm that at least in the area of health the government is receptive to engagement with international partners,” she said.

Which, when translated, means, “They’re ready for their bailout.”

Kim Jong Il (who is a man) has eliminated obesity, stopped illegal immigration, is complimented by world organizations, and has held on to his country’s doctors.  Margaret, you need to emphasize this in your documentary.  I smell Oscar!

Some may argue that South Korea, the wealthier southern capitalist neighbor, is doing better economically, but you know something, Margaret; I bet they have fat kids there.

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.

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