Friday, 24 January 2014

Medical news headlines from China - Friday 24 January

China's foray into pharma research hits setbacks
An article in Caixin looks at Chinese pharmaceutical company efforts to develop therapeutic vaccines that will cure hepatitis B rather than just prevent it. This is a potentially lucrative market given that 10% of Chinese have the infection.  However, the R&D efforts of three companies - including a brewery - to develop a hepatitis B vaccine have proved disappointing, resulting in falls in their stock prices. Research efforts for a therapeutic vaccine have been characterised by delays, poor results and concerns about adverse effects of the new products. Some experts have said the vaccines may do more harm than good while others have said that there may no longer be a need for therapeutic vaccines if hepatitis B is prevented by immunisation.

Private investors in hospital must tackle local government
Another feature in Caixin  takes a look at the recent relaxation of rules that allows private investment in public hospitals. It uses the example of a Chinese pharmaceutical company that tried to buy a stake in two hospitals in Kunming. The article concludes that the local governments which control the hospitals have the power to make or break an investor's plan and stand as the biggest barriers to the kind of public hospital reform advocated by the central government.

Red envelopes still needed for medical care
An editor at the China Daily admits he had to use guanxi and "favours" to get a hospital bed for his father after he suffered  a stroke in Beijing. In his article, Bai Ping says it is extremely difficult to get a hospital bed in Beijing because many people come to the capital from outside in the hope of getting superior treatment in the city's hospitals. Bai Ping says his family now faces huge medical bills and they feel themselves at the mercy of doctors over treatment and costs that they do not know much about.

Unvaccinated China faces grim flu season
China faces a serious flu season because of low levels of immunisation, infectious disease specialists have predicted. The influenza virus is much more active this year and there are three major strains of the flu virus: H1, H3 and Influenza B, according to Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). China's flu vaccination rate remains at 2 to 3% of the population each year, lagging far behind 27% in the US. Low vaccination rates are thought to be due to a general lack of awareness among the Chinese public about the dangers of influenza, as well as concerns about the safety of domestic vaccines, according to the Shanghai Daily.

Trains should have medical facilities
Long-distance trains should provide on-board health facilities, according to China Daily. Many passengers become sick on long distance journeys that can last 2-3 days in China, but they cannot get off the train because their ticket will become invalid. Some long-distance trains have infirmaries but the medical service on trains cannot meet serious emergencies. The railway authorities, therefore, should assign medical professionals to the infirmaries and stock them with as much emergency medicines as possible.

Wenling doctor killer in court
The man accused of attacking and killing a doctor at the First People's Hospital of Wenling in Zhejiang province in October has appeared in court charged with murder. Lian Enqing, 33, is suspected of stabbing to death Wang Yunjie, 46, and severely wounding two other physicians, according to China Daily. It is believed he was unhappy with a surgery done on his nose at the hospital. 

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