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Dirty, Illegal Blood Stations Shut Down

More than 50 dirty or illegal blood collection stations across the country have been shut down.

The closures were yet another step in ongoing efforts to safeguard the blood supply. They follow checks started in May by a task force set up by several ministries.

The task force checked 159 blood collection stations and blood banks randomly selected from more than 900 blood collectors and 36 blood producers across the country.

The task force exposed illegal or poor practices in 52 of the 159, officials said Wednesday in Beijing. The task force was jointly established by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Supervision and State Food and Drug Administration.

At the same time, local governments were urged to set up ongoing inspections to ensure blood safety and improve management, said Wang Yu, deputy director of the Medical Policy Office of the Ministry of Health.

Most of the stations that will be shut down had poor hygiene conditions, failed to give strict medical checks to donors or were involved in organizing illegal blood sales.

The Lintong Blood Plasma Collection Station in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, for example, did not check the medical history of blood donors, some of whom were Hepatitis B carriers.

Meanwhile in Shanghai, police have detained 10 people suspected of illegally organizing blood sales.

Blood sales not only risk spreading viruses, which damage health and families, but exacerbate the ruthless exploitation of the poor, Wang said.

Before the country began to test blood for HIV in 1997, many people, mostly poverty-stricken farmers, were infected.

Since the average incubation time of the HIV virus is eight years, most of those people are expected to develop full blown AIDS in the near future.

Legislators have taken several steps to ensure a better implementation of the Chinese Blood Donation Law which came into effect in 1998 to ban illegal blood sales.

The ban could prevent the spread of HIV and other viruses, such as Hepatitis B, that can be transmitted through blood.

Statistics from the Chinese Society of Blood Transfusion shows that 85 percent of the blood used in China was collected from donors in 2003. The rest comes from blood sellers.

(China Daily October 21, 2004)

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