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Use of Bought Blood to Stop by 2008

The Ministry of Health announced on Sunday that the clinical use of bought blood in hospitals will cease within three years.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Wang Yu, deputy director of medical policy, said donated blood would completely replace blood bought from people by 2008.

Until recently, most of the blood used in hospitals was bought rather than donated. This led to rampant blood sales, which contributed to the spread of blood borne infections.

The number of reported HIV cases reached 840,000 last year, most of which are thought to have been acquired through illegal blood transactions in the 1990s.

The government has encouraged volunteer blood donation since enacting a law in 1998 designed to curb transmission of blood borne pathogens.

Between 1998 and 2004, the percentage of blood used in medical work that was donated increased from 5.47 to 71.5 percent.

But the implementation of the policy varies widely across the country, with some local authorities taking it much more seriously than others.

Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing, and Tibet still have donated blood percentages much lower than the national average.

"Blood sales are still common in these places," Wang said.

The ministry will release new rankings every six months, Wang said, in the hope of embarrassing the worst areas into action.

(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2005)

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