The Hamhung's Orthopaedics Hospital in North Korea is the symbol of Polish and Korean cooperation. It was built by Polish workers in 1954 and a Polish orthopaedic doctor, dr. Lech Wierusz, was working there in the years 1955-1956 as the deputy director of the 4th team of Polish physicians. In 2012, thanks to the Small Grants project, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland equipped two rooms with specialist post-operation beds and mattresses and in 2013 it provided orthopaedic equipment. However, the hospital needs much more. In order to meet the basic needs of the residents of the province, the Hamhung hospital post-operation ward should have 40 beds. It remains to be the only specialist orthopaedic hospital in the country.
Moreover, organisation working against the exclusion of the disabled, such as the province units of the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled (KFPD) and the Associations of the Disabled, recently created in North Korea, face numerous challenges. If they want to ensure that the disabled participate in decision-making and the social life, they have to intensify the exchange of information between the four provinces where they operate (South Hamgyong, Kangwon, North and South Pyongan). However, it is impossible without the equipment allowing for communication between the units. Therefore, it is necessary to purchase the communication equipment and solar panels enabling them to function uninterrupted in a country where problems with electricity are the order of the day.
The project is scheduled to be implemented from 1 July to 31 December 2016 in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Pyongyang and its local partner, the Handicap International organisation. As a result of the project, people with disabilities will have a chance to better integrate and participate in the social life thanks to the professional medical care and the possibility of acting in an organisation associating people with disabilities. Some of them will be able to have a job. Moreover, as a result of equipping the post-operation ward, more it will be possible to provide help for a larger number of patients.
Specialists in the Handicap International will order the equipment that will be delivered to and installed in the Hamhung’s hospital. Subsequently, training courses will be conducted to refresh knowledge in the field of rehabilitation obtained last year. Equipment necessary for the communication between the province units of the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled and the Associations of the Disabled will be selected and purchased. It will be installed in four of them (in the two, a complete set: computers and panels, and the two which already have laptops will only receive the solar panels). The partner will also ensure an appropriate promotion to preserve the memory of the project donor among the beneficiaries.
Patients of the Hamhung’s hospital, who will receive better care, will be the direct beneficiaries of the project. The doctors and therapists will also benefit from the project by participating in training courses. Moreover, the communication and efficiency of the Federation and the Associations of the Disabled will be improved.
The funds earmarked by the Polish Aid for the project are part of a bigger project financed by the EU. The project was fully funded by the Polish Aid and its value amounted to PLN 50,098 (EUR 12,000). For the purposes of calculation, the following exchange rate was applied: USD 1 = PLN 4.1749.
The project was implemented from 1 June to 18 November 2016. It provided for the delivery of the equipment for the post-operation room: specialist beds, anti-decubitus mattresses, bedside tables and sets of sheets. The ability to provide medical services was strengthened, which improved access to rehabilitation for people with disabilities. Before, the hospital could only admit 16 patients, whereas now, after the implementation of the project,, it can admit 28 patients. The second objective of the project was to improve the communication between the local Associations for People with Disabilities and the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled, which was accomplished by providing the Associations with computer equipment (laptops, printers, solar panels).