The Section Doctor System in the DPRK

The section doctor system is a system under which a doctor takes charge of the health of the people of some households or workplaces. There are household and workplace doctor systems. In the household doctor system clinics take charge of the health care of inhabitants. Let´s take the Sinam Polyclinic in the Central District, Pyongyang City, for example.

Ri Myong Sun, head of the polyclinic, says:

“Our Sinam Polyclinic conducts medical care and hygienic and anti-epidemic work for the residents of Pothongmun-dong and Somun-dong. We are also responsible for the health of the employees of the industrial establishments in those regions during their work time. A doctor is in charge of 120 households or 400 to 500 residents on an average.”

Doctors have health care document for each resident. Recorded in the document are his or her health, diseases, and medical care since the birth, so it gets thicker year after year. In the morning doctors give medical treatment to the visitors.

In the afternoon doctors conduct curative and preventive activities in the regions in their charge. Medical examination is done once each quarter of a year and even the diseases residents themselves hide or don´t know are found, registered and cured. In Korea active efforts are made to decrease the number of households assigned to a doctor. According to the workplace doctor system, dispensaries have been set up in big industrial establishments. The clinics work for 24 hours like big hospitals.

A local has this to say:

“My name is Jang Myong Suk. We have a clinic nearby. So it is very convenient for us to receive medical treatment at any time, not going to a far-off big hospital.”

The section doctor system has been enforced since the 1960s in Korea. The system is fundamentally different from the one under which individuals employ their own doctors and receive treatment for their health.

This is the common estimation of the World Health Organization and many foreigners:

“The section doctor system of Korea is a superior medical service system which enables all people to enjoy the benefits of the free medical care system alike.”

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