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500 Health Workers Punished for Bribery
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China has sentenced 242 health workers on charges of commercial bribery and punished 270 others with Party or political disciplines during a nationwide crackdown on corruption in health sector.

A total of 979 cases involving commercial bribery in purchasing and distribution of drug and medical equipments were investigated by supervision and judicial authorities during August 2005 and December 2006, Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong said here Tuesday.

"Nearly 61.21 million yuan (US$7.85 million) was involved in the cases," Chen said at a national teleconference.

In China, some companies and individuals offered commissions to health officials and staff to secure contracts for substandard drugs and medical equipments, resulting in many medical accidents.

Illegal deals between health workers and drug dealers also contributed to the rising medical expenses. Some doctors prescribed expensive drugs for which they received kickbacks and caused public distrust of hospitals.

To ease rising public complaints, China's health authorities have been struggling to crack down on corruption in the sector.

The Health Ministry and the State Food and Drug Administration announced last year that they will blacklist companies involved in illicit deals.

The blacklist will be composed by provincial health authorities and posted on their websites. Medical institutions shall be forbidden to buy any drugs or medical equipments from the listed companies in two years.

Vice Health Minister Chen said the ministry is working out a long-term mechanism, which could effectively prevent such violations, by tightening supervision and rules to regulate procurement of medical materials and the conduct of health workers.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2007)

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