A woman in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, recently died while giving birth alone in a hospital without any doctors, Daily NK has learned.

A source in the province told Daily NK last Wednesday that the woman, who lived in Gangan Village, had gone to a local hospital earlier this month after feeling birth pangs. The hospital was completely empty, and she died while giving birth all alone. “The woman’s husband submitted a petition to the provincial party, but received no response,” the source added.

According to the source, doctors at the hospital have not been going to work because they have failed to receive any food rations or monthly wages amid worsening economic conditions following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The woman initially went to a local medical clinic along with her husband, but the facility had no doctors, so she was forced to go to a larger hospital in the village. The hospital, however, had no doctors, either, and her husband left her side to find a doctor who could help her.

The husband ultimately found one doctor, but was forced to start his search for another doctor when that one turned out to have a different specialty. His wife went into labor by herself as he continued to search for help.

The woman had visited the hospital several times before the birth, but was unaware she was going to have twins. After giving birth to the first child, she found that there was another baby in her stomach; however, she ended up dying of a severe loss of blood while giving birth to the second child.

A doctor at a hospital in Pyongyang. / Image: Roan Harak, Flickr, Creative Commons

“The husband had gone through the trouble of putting his wife in a cow-drawn cart and taking her all the way to the village hospital, but she ultimately died because so much time had passed and there were no doctors at the hospital,” the source said, adding, “The husband, angry at what had happened, submitted a petition to the provincial party.”

In the petition, the husband argued that his wife had died because doctors were not doing their jobs amid the troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He further questioned how doctors could leave a hospital unstaffed during the daytime as they are responsible for maintaining the lives and health of the people.

“The provincial party did question hospital [staff] about the death of the woman, but they’ve been unable to come up with much to say,” the source said, adding, “Hospital doctors are also unable to receive rations or monthly wages just like ordinary people, so it appears the provincial party won’t take any measures because [they believe] no one was responsible.”

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.