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Ministry to Get Tough on Illegal Adverts
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Cracking down on misleading advertisements and companies that provide unsafe beauty treatments will be the priorities of a new campaign to be launched by the Ministry of Health in a bid to regulate the healthcare market.

Advertisements for medical products can sometimes be misleading, exaggerating the function or effects a certain product might have. In the worst cases, the use of some products can cause illness or even death.

Earlier this year, a new regulation on advertisements for medical services was implemented, which aimed to stop companies from exaggerating the effects of treatments by banning the use of any disease names.

Under the regulation, an advert can reveal no more than the name of the medical institution, its address and phone number, specialty and qualifications, type of ownership, number of beds and opening hours.

In addition to the ban on false advertising, the ministry said it will focus on the safety of blood donors and crackdown on unlicensed medical services during this year's campaign.

It vowed to close down illegal blood-collection centers and bring to justice those involved in the illegal practice.

The public was alarmed by a report earlier this year that in some rural areas of south China's Guangdong Province, merchants were collecting blood from the poor and selling it to underground networks.

In Jieyang, a rural town in Guangdong, some victims were forced to sell their blood more than a dozen times in a month, earning their agents more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,300) a month, an investigative report by the China Central Television network (CCTV) said.

At a recent high-level conference on the reinforcement of economic order, Vice-Premier Wu Yi said the country must not relent in its efforts to crack down on unauthorized medical practices and the blood trade.

According to Ma Xiaowei, vice-minister of health, China has been running a campaign since April 2005 to promote blood safety and crack down on illegal medical practices and significant progress has been made.

More than 174,000 unregistered medical professionals have been punished and 2,485 medical agencies, which violated the rules have had their licenses eliminated, Ma said.

However, Vice-Minister Chen Xiaohong warned that a number of problems persist, including a lack of attention on the part of local governments and a lack of supervision by relevant authorities.

In Beijing, 40 percent of the 116 medical institutions surveyed by a task force were found to be operating illegally.

(China Daily April 28, 2007)

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