Monday, 3 March 2014

Eight medical stories from China you should read

by Michael Woodhead

1. Beijing will start to enforce new anti-smoking laws with 200 yuan on-the-spot fines (up from 10 yuan) for people who smoke in public indoor shared areas, and institutional fines of 30,000 yuan (up from 5000 yuan). Cameras will be used to compensate for the lack of enforcement officers, especially after hours, the city government says.

2. The Chinese government has been accused of withholding medical care from dissidents. An article by Sophie Richardson in the WSJ says civil rights campaigner Cao Shunli is now in intensive care because she was denied access to medical care while detained for her efforts to promote a civil society.

3. A link has been found between damp housing in Shanghai and rates of asthma in children. Researchers from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology say asthma symptoms could be reduced by 25% by simply keeping a child's window open at night.

4. A vaccine against enterovirus 71 developed by Sinovac Biotech has proved effective against EV71-associated hand, foot, and mouth disease or herpangina in infants and young children, according to a study in 5000 children done by the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

5. Eating shark fin is not only cruel and bad for the environment, it is also a health hazard because of high mercury levels in the product, researchers from Zhejiang have shown. After testing samples of shark fin they found that up to 33% contained toxic levels of mercury.

6. Antibiotics are widely overused by parents in rural China, with more than 60% dosing their children with antibiotics bought over the counter, Shanghai researchers have found. Most parents were ignorant about how antibiotics worked and had little idea hat they do not help viral infections.

7. Migrant workers have little access to healthcare and many of them put off seeing a doctor for illness, a survey in Shanghai has found. Two thirds of migrant workers said they had never had a medical check up and nearly 40% said they had ignored symptoms because they couldn't get to see a doctor.

8. Health workers in Guangdong have completed a successful pilot trial of a cervical cancer screening program using the ThinPrep cytological system. The program offered Pap test cancer screening to more than 40,000 women, and found that improvements are needed in basic education regarding cervical cancer screening for young and poorly educated women.

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