China is to do more to tackle the growing problem of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) which have infected millions of people in recent years, according to state health officials.
The State Diseases Control Center under the Ministry of Health is expected to be established soon and will oversee the management of such diseases.
Official statistics indicate that China has about 830,000 STD patients, but experts estimate that the number has exceeded 8 million and the annual rate of increase has reached almost 40 percent.
HIV, which can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, has infected at least 500,000 people in China and the number is expected to double within a decade, experts said.
“However, China’s medical services on the prevention of STDs and their control is trailing behind the swift spread of the diseases,” said Zhang Guocheng, the deputy director of the ministry’s National STD and Leprosy Control Center based in Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu Province.
Zhang added that both illegal roving STD doctors and many state-owned hospitals and clinics are not doing patients any favors because they charge them too much and provide a poor service. Patients are usually too shy, because of the nature of their disease, to file complaints to supervisory bodies.
In China, illegal roving clinics, which usually advertise in public toilets and cheat people with inferior or even fake medicine, still exist in great numbers.
Wu Mingjiang, director of the department of medical administration of the ministry, said these illegal clinics would be severely dealt with.
Meanwhile, doctors who do not have an official certificate to work as a qualified practitioner will be stamped out, the director added.
However, even in many legal medical units, many patients keen to be treated are given a poor service and charged unreasonably high prices, Zhang noted.
During the 1966-76 period, STDs were virtually eliminated across the country, Zhang said.
But since reform and opening-up policies started in 1978, they have spread rapidly, especially in the past 10 years.
Medical services for these diseases are not good enough and there is a serious shortage of qualified STD doctors in the country.
The ministry recently issued the latest national diagnosis criterion and suggested treatment methods for the most familiar clinical venereal diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis.
Gonorrhea seems to be the main STD in the country, although in recent years syphilis has spread very quickly and is the number one venereal disease in some regions, experts said.
At present, most hospitals in China have no special STD departments or doctors, and many doctors have no real knowledge of STDs.
Zhang’s center has trained about 1,000 doctors annually in recent years, but it is far from enough. Zhang said that more needs to be done.
(China Daily 11/06/2000)