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Beijing Gets Ready to Handle Health Crises During Games
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Beijing will take every possible step to prevent an epidemic or health scare during the 2008 Olympic Games and to ensure injured and sick athletes get immediate and the best medical treatment, city health authorities said yesterday.

"Health security preparations for the 2008 Olympics are on in full swing," Beijing Municipal Health Bureau's deputy chief Deng Xiaohong told a press conference.

The bureau will have strict control measures in place to ensure that imported food products are safe and drinking water free of contamination at the Olympic village, competition venues, public media and conference centers and hotels.

The city will have medical teams ready to deal with any emergencies. "Beijing is certain of rendering top quality health service for the Games," the official said.

The city has gained a lot of experience from the major events hosted during the past few years, such as November's Sino-African Summit, when more than 40 heads of states and governments were in Beijing. And the 23 trial events for the Games that begin in July will help it be ready for the big event.

Beijing already has two city management programs and a training plan to prepare for health security that focuses on medical emergencies. The training program, led by the bureau, includes technical and language trainings both.

More than 20 hospitals have already been selected as official medical centers for the 2008 Olympics, with all the doctors attending classes to learn English.

And not least importantly, the bureau will coordinate with banks to ensure foreign patients can use international bankcards to pay their medical bills from this year.

As part of its preparation, the bureau conducted food security inspections in more than 30,000 hotels and restaurants early this month.

"We have defined four safety grades, with hotels at the bottom two grades being told to improve their standards," another deputy chief of the bureau Liang Wannian said.

The city has formed a food safety committee with representatives of 16 government departments. It also has formed an expert panel for the Olympics.

A food safety monitoring system both in Chinese and English will keep track food processing and transportation. In case of a food scare, the city will immediately form teams for medical treatment, testing and assessment, news briefings and investigations.

Health workers will undergo training to deal with public health incidents, Liang said. Public campaigns will be launched in the run-up to the Olympics to make people more aware of the importance of food and water safety.

(China Daily January 30, 2007)

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