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MOH to look into black lung case
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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has sent a team to inspect the case of a migrant worker who underwent open-chest surgery in Zhengzhou, Henan province, following an initial diagnosis by local health authorities that denied him free treatment and compensation for black lung disease.

Henan native Zhang Haichao, 28, had his chest opened in late June at a key hospital in the provincial capital to test his lung tissue. He was diagnosed there as having pneumoconiosis, a major occupational hazard in China, the Orient Today reported.

Previously, the government-designated Zhengzhou Occupational Disease Prevention and Treatment Center had diagnosed Zhang through chest X-ray analysis as suspected black lung disease plus tuberculosis, which denied him free treatment and compensation, the paper reported.

MOH inspectors medically examined Zhang at his home yesterday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"I'd rather have a second open-chest surgery to prove my condition," said Zhang, who has said he began to cough and experience breathing difficulties in late 2007, after working for a local small fireproof material factory for three years where he was constantly exposed to manufacturing dust.

In most cases, doctors diagnose pneumoconiosis by X-ray rather than open-chest surgery, which is technically more accurate to diagnose lung-related diseases, said Li Tao, director of the national institute of occupational health and poison control.

The MOH team will assist the local health authority to issue a second diagnosis, which is still pending, Li added.

A special task force comprising officials from local administrations like work safety supervision and health is also involved in the investigation.

A division director with the Zhengzhou Occupational Disease Prevention and Treatment Center, who did not want to be named, told China Daily yesterday they welcomed the MOH team and would assist with its work there.

He also said his center did the medical examination for Zhang and issued the diagnosis according to legal procedures and professional standards.

The State occupational disease law stipulates that a person who disagrees with a diagnosis should apply to the local medical authority for another examination. The law promises free treatment and compensation for patients diagnosed by designated medical institutions.

(China Daily July 28, 2009)

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