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A malnourished boy eats vitamin- and mineral-enriched food at a North Korean hospital. Photo: Gerald Bourken / AFP / Getty Images

Citizens of North Korea are living with levels of disease and malnutrition seldom seen in modern Asia, according to newly reported 2016 data from the Global Burden of Disease Study, an international program of public health researchers.

Among the country's 26 million people:

  • One in three have at least one nutritional disorder, most commonly deficiencies in iron, vitamin A, and protein.
  • One in four live with latent tuberculosis.
  • More than three million harbor intestinal worms, like those found in a recent military defector, which siphon off essential nutrients and are particularly dangerous in children, stunting growth and cognitive development.
  • Around three million are infected with the hepatitis B virus.
  • More than a million develop pneumonia every year.

Why it matters: North Korea's population is being decimated by infection and malnutrition. Without intervention, its public health crisis will only exacerbate the economic strains of international sanctions and lead to more widespread suffering.

What's next: Drugs and vaccines are available for most of the diseases afflicting the country. International health agencies such as the WHO and Gavi are working to promote access to essential medicines, but Kim Jong-un's threats of nuclear war continue to complicate intervention efforts.

Peter Hotez is a professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, where he holds the Texas Children's Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics.

Go deeper

More than a dozen injured in downtown Austin shooting

Police tape in Austin, Texas in 2018. Photo: y Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A shooting in a busy part of downtown Austin, Texas, early Saturday injured at least 13 people, including two who are in critical condition.

The state of play: Gunfire erupted around 1:30 a.m. along 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants. The suspected shooter remains at large, Austin police said. "It is unknown if there is one, or multiple suspects involved," they noted, adding the shooting appears to be an isolated incident.

Biden to urge G7 to take unified approach to countering China

Photo: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday is expected to urge fellow G7 leaders to adopt a unified approach to countering China's rising global influence, AP reports.

Driving the news: The G7 leaders are set to unveil a multi-billion-dollar global infrastructure plan aimed at rivaling Beijing's efforts in the developing world.

Why America's post-vaccine summer is off to a slow start

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are itching to put pandemic life behind them, but many of the necessary ingredients for a summer of carefree fun — everything from neighborhood pools to car rentals — still aren't fully available.

The big picture: Labor shortages, scrambled supply chains and simple logistics are all making it harder for a whole range of businesses to meet post-pandemic demand, and that’s making “hot vax summer” a little harder to pull off.

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