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WHO to send more high-tech tuberculosis test devices to N. Korea

2014/03/27 10:19

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to provide North Korea with a large number of additional state-of-the-art testing devices for tuberculosis (TB), a media report said Thursday.

The WHO has put forth a plan to roll out GeneXpert, a device that greatly shortens the time in diagnosing the disease, to even the provincial areas in the communist country, according to the Voice of America, citing the agency's global report on tuberculosis.

The health agency gave the diagnosis device for the first time last year to the national tuberculosis research institute in Pyongyang, it added.

GeneXpert provides the platform for testing those with suspected drug-resistant TB and for all living with HIV virus in a highly accurate manner. By cutting the time for diagnosis from weeks to just a few hours, the machine helps to halt their spread, according to experts.

Developed by the U.S.-based health care company Cepheid Inc., GeneXpert costs some US$80,000 per unit, according to the report.

With an aim to eradicate the airborne disease in North Korea, the international organization also plans to conduct a survey on tuberculosis and repair medical facilities there, according to the U.S. broadcaster.

As of 2012, 409 out of every 100,000 North Koreans suffered the disease, and the North lacks sufficient medical equipment and facilities, according to WHO data.