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China launches national survey on occupational disease
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China is to survey the sector in charge of diagnosing occupational diseases to improve administration and rectify problems, the Ministry of Health said Friday.

The survey aims to uncover problems in diagnosis and appraisal of occupational disease relating to criteria, procedure, administration, personnel and funding, the ministry said.

The ministry also wants details on the number of institutions and personnel in charge of occupational disease diagnosis, people who file diagnosis applications, and a breakdown of people with diseases.

The ministry has asked the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct spot checks in provincial-level areas and institutions.

Provincial-level health bureaus are required to reply to the questionnaire by Aug. 31.

The survey order comes about a week after the plight of Zhang Haichao was highlighted. Zhang, a migrant worker, fought to prove his compensation claim with a biopsy.

Zhang, 28, underwent the biopsy to prove he suffered pneumoconiosis after he was denied compensation for debilitating lung disease from working at a brick factory in central China's Henan Province.

Results confirmed Zhang's disease as a work injury. Two Central China Health officials have been fired and another official and three doctors were suspended Tuesday because of the investigation.

Under Chinese law, sufferers of occupational diseases are entitled to compensation. Also, workers exposed to the risk of occupational diseases are entitled to subsidies.

Pneumoconiosis is an increasingly common lung disease among Chinese workers, especially the young, said the Ministry of Health.

It usually affects people working in very dusty environment and, without proper treatment, can be fatal. In serious cases, the patient needs permanent care and may never be able to return to work.

(Xinhua News Agency August 1, 2009)

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