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Website Set Up to Combat Food Poisoning
Do you want first aid for a nasty case of food poisoning, are you looking for specialist advice, or do you just want to stay alert of the latest accidents?

If you do, all the information you want is just a click of a mouse away at http://npcc.org.cn, an authoritative website run by the National Poison Control Center of the Ministry of Health.

"People can post online messages for consultation about symptoms, locate the nearest centers for emergency treatment and exchange tips with specialists," said Sun Chengye, the centerís executive deputy director.

Sun told China Daily yesterday that his agency is now updating the contact information of its branches nationwide to strengthen cooperation on possible poisoning outbreaks.

In the near future, Sun said the centerís information will be available in English, to serve the growing number of foreign residents in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

The website's opening on Wednesday came hot on the heels of a spate of poisoning cases over the past few months that have shocked the nation.

An indication of public interest in the issue was that, on the day the website went live, it received more than 1,400 hits.

In mid-September last year, a snack bar owner in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, contaminated the food of his business rival with lethal rat poison, killing 38 people and leaving hundreds seriously ill.

A total of 193 teachers and students in two schools in Changde, in Central China's Hunan Province, were poisoned after eating breakfast on November 11, while 70 children and two teachers at a kindergarten in Wuchuan, South China's Guangdong Province, were poisoned last November.

According to official data, 146 people died and more than 15,000 were affected by food poisoning in 2001.

Sun said the main causes were chemicals and medicines which were either mistakenly used or abused by adults.

Though netizens can now log onto the website for help, residents who are unfamiliar with the Internet or have no cyber access can dial a 24-hour hotline on 010-6313-1122 for information.

Sun said efforts are needed to spread the centerís branches into remote areas, with a more sophisticated technological support and professional resource network to cover China's interior.

(China Daily January 3, 2003)

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