On Monday, the Red Cross Societies of Japan and North Korea are to resume the second round of their talks in Beijing on humanitarian assistance between the two countries. The Japanese government is restoring its food aid to North Korea after a break of three years as a direct result of the meeting of the two delegations from the respective Red Cross Societies in Beijing last December. Japan will formally announce its offer to send 100,000 tonnes of rice to North Korea at the meeting. The International Federation's delegation in Pyongyang has been working with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for over five years, first bringing food aid to more than 130,000 people left destitute by devastating floods in 1995 and 1996, and later focusing its programmes on health care. It is currently supplying nearly 1,700 health institutions with medicines, as well as providing training for nurses, midwives, community health workers and doctors. The major health problems in North Korea at the moment are respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Some cases of malnutrition have been reported due to lack of food and diarrhoeal diseases. Due to lack of heating at the health facilities, patients are mainly treated in their homes.
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