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Almost 5,000 Illegal Blood Banks Closed Last Year

China's health authorities reported 280 illegal blood deals and closed 4,915 blood banks for violating collection regulations last year, a senior health official said on Thursday.

Health authorities also disqualified 25 blood collection personnel and closed two blood plasma collection stations last year, said Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei during a meeting on health supervision.

"The supervision of blood collection has improved thanks to a nationwide campaign specifically against illegal blood deals," he said.

The campaign, launched in 2005 by the Ministry of Health, saw 251,000 unlicensed health organizations closed, and the revocation of the practise licenses of 1,110 doctors and 3,201 medical institutions.

"Medical services have obviously improved, while illegal medical advertisements and unqualified medical staff have declined," Ma said.

"We also established a health supervision mechanism," Ma said, noting that 98 percent of cities and 94 percent of counties had set up health regulators by the end of 2007, with almost 100,000 staff.

However, Ma said, nine cities and 411 counties still had no medical services watchdogs, and lack of supervision was still a major problem rural areas.

Some provincial areas, including Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Beijing, Guangdong, Shanxi and Shaanxi, had employed professional supervisors in grassroots medical institutions, which greatly improved the efficiency of the work, Ma said.

The central government also allocated more than 120 million yuan (US$17.1 million) to support capacity building of medical supervision in west and central China.

(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2008)

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