Miners get help in fight against disease

Updated: 2012-04-25 07:59

By He Na (China Daily)

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Service problems

According to Zhu Qishang, director of the black lung disease center at No 4 hospital affiliated to Sichuan University, the central government has attached more importance to occupational diseases in recent years, yet investment into research remains limited. With the sharp increase in the number of patients, the government should establish more specialist hospitals to improve treatment and allow greater patient access to treatment, she said.

"A dedicated black lung treatment fund needs to be established quickly, because occupational diseases often occur in groups, and solving the problem is vital for social stability," she said.

In addition, there is a dearth of experienced medical staff, so the disease is often mistaken for tuberculosis. The income and welfare provisions for medical staff working with occupational diseases are very low and need to rise, she added.

Progress and hope

A revised version of the law on the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases came into effect on Dec 31. It states that the State Administration of Work Safety is responsible for the management of the monitoring of workplace dust levels, the ministry of health is in charge of diagnosis and treatment, and the labor department evaluates the severity of the condition and the level of compensation.

Zhang Zhenguo said it's a big step forward in the prevention and treatment of occupational illnesses, because it not only defines the responsibilities of each department, but has simplified the diagnosis procedures, giving patients easier access to treatment.

He said that if the cost of the lung-lavage operation could be fully covered through insurance, less-wealthy patients would be the main beneficiaries.

"Black lung disease is a social problem, it needs attention and help from all walks of society. I hope more people will join us to save more families," he said.

Tang Yue contributed to this story.

Contact the reporter at hena@chinadaily.com.cn