Govt struggles to keep up with hemophilia costs

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The government needs time to begin covering all medical costs for hemophilia patients, like other countries and regions do, said Wu Runhui, a hematology specialist with the Beijing Children's Hospital.

Govt struggles to keep up with hemophilia costs

China's huge population and its lack of doctors who can diagnose and treat the disease makes the mission quite difficult, she said.

But she conceded international experience has shown that without strong government support, the problem of hemophilia, whose sufferers need lifelong, expensive treatments, can hardly be addressed.

Also, "to invest in hemophilia treatments, particularly the preventive kind among child sufferers, is a smart choice by health economics standards, because the patients would live as normal and make contributions to the society with adequate medical care", she said.

China now has about 130,000 mainlanders suffering from hemophilia, with a prevalence of one in 10,000 in the general population, experts have estimated.

However, less than 5 percent of them have been diagnosed and treated, official statistics showed.

Without treatment, the incurable disease can cause crippling pain, severe joint damage, disability and early death, according to the World Federation of Hemophilia.

Most of the Chinese patients end up in wheelchairs and die young, Wu said.

A recent epidemiology study in India showed the average life span for severe hemophilia patients in the country was around 30 years.

"I think that's similar to China's situation," Wu said.

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