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Workers at Olympic Sites Receive Free Medical Aid
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Fifty-year-old Olympic construction worker Hu Shouyi finally discovered why he has been suffering from bouts of dizziness for more than a year.


After a free check up at the construction site where he works one of the venues for the 2008 Games, Hu was told he was suffering from high blood pressure.


His blood pressure had risen to at 160/95 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) the normal level is 120/80 mmHg.


The small, lean worker was written a prescription for medicine to relieve the pressure and told to watch his diet, drinking and everyday life.


It was the first time Hu, a migrant worker from a small village in east China's Anhui Province, who has worked in Beijing for six years, had received a free check-up.


And with the check-up he was even given 300 yuan (US$37.5) to pay for medicine.


Wiping away tears of joy, Hu who supports three children, all in school put the cash into his worn wallet with trembling fingers.


The free consultation was organized by the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF) on Saturday, with the aim of looking after the health of construction workers at Olympic sports venues.


Altogether, 12 doctors came to the construction site, the hockey field for the 2008 Olympic Games, offering free consultations for the 200-plus workers there.


"I did not take the dizziness as a serious matter before and haven't told anybody else," said Hu. "In fact, I do not want to spend too much money on seeing a doctor here in Beijing. But after hearing what the doctor said today, I understand what high blood pressure is.


"It is very dangerous and could have led to other diseases if I did not treat it in time.


"I will buy the medicines the doctor advised me to," added Hu, who earns 12,000 yuan (US$1,500) a year, sending almost all back to his hometown to support his family.


"Due to our usual physical labor, most of us construction workers are quite healthy here and we do not care too much once a minor bruise comes along," he said. "Now that we can get free medical help, we are so grateful. We will work harder here in the construction site, and do the job better."


Hu is just one of the 80 workers at the site who received free medical aid.


Most of the 80 suffer from minor bruises or ailments, according to Yang Rongya, deputy president of the General Hospital of Beijing Military Command, who is one of the doctors at the site.


Yang said given the relatively high cost of medical bills and construction workers' low incomes, many workers do not want to visit a doctor when they fall ill or get injured while working.


"As a result, these workers can be in the less than healthy state for a long time and often need urgent help," said Yang.


Tang Shengwen, deputy president of CRCF, said with the support of a number of corporations and hospitals, his foundation will carry out more free consultations for construction workers in the near future.


There are about 20 Olympic venues under construction in Beijing, with more than 30,000 men working on them. Most of the workers come from areas outside the capital.


"I'm glad to see these workers benefit from our program and I hope more companies and individuals will offer help," said Tang.


(China Daily July 14, 2006)

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