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China Says It's Still "Far Behind" in Ensuring Blood Safety

April 5, 2004

At a global conference in Beijing Sunday, Vice Health Minister Zhu Qingsheng said his country lags "far behind" others in protecting the safety of donated blood despite a crackdown on unsanitary blood buying that spread HIV in the 1990s. Although China has worked with world health groups to shut down the blood-buying industry and to improve testing on donated blood, Zhu said problems remain.

Some donors use other people's names when they give blood, and up to 20 percent of the blood supply nationwide is still from paid donors, according to the minister -- though this is down from 80 percent six years ago. The Red Cross and the World Health Organization say bought blood supplies are more likely to come from those at high risk of HIV, hepatitis or syphilis.

The two agencies gathered health officials from more than 20 countries at Sunday's meeting to discuss how to increase blood donations from unpaid volunteers at lower risk for disease. The challenge is a worldwide blood shortage, according to John Sparrow, a Beijing-based delegate for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "Although a lot of progress has been made and there are a lot of success stories on how blood is collected, there's still a great need to continue with these efforts," Sparrow said.

Back to other news for April 5, 2004

Excerpted from:
Associated Press
04.04.04; Stephanie Hoo

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