Cabinet decision made 70 years ago

November 19, 2022

It has been 70 years since the Cabinet adopted the decision on introducing a universal free medical care system in the DPRK.

As time passes, some people in the country receive medical treatment without knowing what doctor’s fee is and when and how the free medical care started in the country.

It happened one day in January 1952, when the Fatherland Liberation War, or the Korean war, was at its height.

Premier Kim Il Sung called an official of the Ministry of Public Health to the Supreme Headquarters of the Korean People’s Army and told him that our people were now working hard to win the war in all places of the front and the rear without hesitating to sacrifice even their lives and we should spare nothing for such patriotic and devoted people, stressing the need to introduce a free medical care system for all people.

Seeing him very surprised to hear that, the Premier said that though the current situation was difficult, nothing was more precious than the lives of people.

As a result, Cabinet Decision No. 203 “On implementing free medical care system for the people” was adopted on November 13 1952 and a universal free medical care system came into force over all parts of the northern half of Korea on January 1 1953.

As the country’s economy grew after the war, the Premier put forward a new policy on implementing a complete and universal free medical care system in February 1960.

The upgraded system was mainly aimed at the state taking full care of and protecting the lives and health of the people by further improving the conditions and quality of medical service.

Accordingly, lots of problems were resolved including the introduction of a section doctor system during the period of implementing the first seven-year plan, making it possible to introduce the complete and universal medical care system.

In the 1970s a hospital was built in every ri, the lowest administrative unit of the DPRK, and city and county hospitals modernized across the country and newly-built provincial general hospitals furnished with full sets of equipment and medical appliances to provide quality medical service.

With solid foundations having been laid for producing and supplying medical appliances and various kinds of synthetic medicines, President Kim Il Sung saw that the  law on public health was adopted in April 1980 to legally guarantee  the citizens’ rights to receive medical treatment for free and the state’s responsibility for providing them with benefits from the complete free medical care system and set the goals for a new stage of improving the specialization level of medical service in succession.

As a result, well-knit medical service networks of specialized departments were completed from the central level to provinces, cities, counties and ris in the country in the mid-1980s including those for children, women and emergency cases.

Modern preventive and curative medical institutions increased in number throughout the country even during the period of the Arduous March, the hard time of the country in the 1990s. 

In the new century of the Juche era, modern hospitals have been built like the Breast Tumour Institute of the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital, Ryugyong Dental Hospital, Okryu Children’s Hospital and Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital, making substantial contributions to improving the health of the people.


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