The Republic of Korea, often referred to as South Korea, has experienced tremendous economic growth over the past several decades. It is one of the United States' largest trading partners and one of the largest economies in the world.
Despite this economic growth, tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a large public health concern for the Republic of Korea, particularly with the emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant TB. In 2006, 14 percent of previously treated TB cases in the Republic of Korea were MDR TB, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, WHO reports that malaria cases, at one time on the decline in the country, have recently begun to rise.
NIAID-supported research in the Republic of Korea has been focused on TB, herpes virus, and parasitic diseases, among others. NIAID collaborates with the Republic Korea under the auspices of several science and technology agreements. These include a letter of intent between NIAID and the Bureau of Health Promotion of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, signed in July 2003; a memorandum of understanding on Health and Medical Sciences between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, signed in July 2003; and an umbrella agreement relating to Scientific and Technical Cooperation between the U.S. government and the government of the Republic of Korea, signed in July 1999.