Chinese hospitals to pay compensation to people infected with HIV-tainted blood
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time Chinese authorities have condemned a hospital to pay compensation to patients who have contracted ADIS as a result of HIV-tainted blood transfusions. The hospital is in Heilongjiang province and has to pay 20 million yuan to a group of patients infected by error.
According to the patients’ attorneys, in addition to paid medical expenses, 18 of them will receive 200,000 yuan up front and 3,000 yuan per month. Survivors of those who have already died will receive a one time lump sum of 300,000 yuan.
For Wan Yanhai, director of the Beijing-based Aizhixing Institute of Health Education (China’s foremost AIDS-HIV organisation), this is the highest amount paid out for medical malpractice in China and will help many patients get what they need, but it took a battle of many years. Treatment is expensive and many patients can no longer work.
Fifteen of these patients were infected in 2004 when the hospital bought blood from illegal dealers. Three other patients were infected by their spouse and a woman passed the infection onto her five-year old child.
Three hospital employees were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to ten.
Many patients have died after many years, leaving young HIV-positive children without any support, abandoned by all. ‘Save the Children’ has organised foster care for many of them.
Currently, many poor people continue to sell their blood, but matters are made worse by those who continue to buy it, people like Jiang Zhongping, a Shanghai businesswoman, who was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison for organising blood sales for cash.
Many Chinese businesses, schools and villages are assigned blood donation quotas but have difficulty meeting them. Ms Jiang saw a business opportunity in finding “volunteers” to help schools and villages in the Shanghai area fill the donation quotas. In each case she took a cut of the money the volunteers were paid in exchange for their blood.
But China banned blood sales in 2003, after it was discovered that unclean blood buying businesses, especially in the central province of Henan, had passed the HIV/AIDS virus to thousands of people in the 1990s.
Health Ministry figures released last November indicate that 5.1 per cent of the country’s 185,000 registered AIDS/HIV patients contracted the disease as a result of tainted blood, but the central government and the United Nations fear that the actual number of infected people might be as high as 650,000. (PB)