TB checks for all new students included in draft amendment to health regulation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 4:17am


All newly enrolled students and people working in the food, drugs and cosmetics industries should be screened for tuberculosis to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease, according to a draft amendment to a health rule.

The amendment to the TB Prevention and Control Regulation was put up for a month's public consultation on Wednesday.

It would also ask teachers at kindergartens and schools, cattle farmers, frontline medical staff involved in treating tuberculosis, and workers who come into contact with dust or poisonous gas to include screenings for the disease in physical check-ups.

"Although the current regulation has been in use for more than 20 years, the country still faces new problems and challenges" in tuberculosis prevention and control, the Ministry of Health said.

The mainland, which has the world's second-highest number of tuberculosis infections, has treated 8.29 million patients in the past 10 years. There were about 900,000 new cases last year.

An outbreak was recorded at Zhejiang University in November last year, with 16 students affected. A month later, 40 students at Jiangsu University of Science and Technology caught the disease.

Tuberculosis has made a global comeback including in developed countries. What makes it so difficult to eliminate on the mainland is a shortage of staff, resources and funding.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is also on the rise because patients fail to follow treatment regimes or stop taking medication too early.

The draft amendment would empower health departments to obtain information from work units or people and inspect venues when necessary. However, they are not allowed to divulge the personal information of patients.

Medical or disease prevention and control facilities that hide, delay or give false information regarding tuberculosis epidemics or intentionally disclose the private information of patients, suspected patients and close contacts will be disciplined and even prosecuted, the draft amendment says.

Designated institutions should register patients and launch emergency protocols in the event of an epidemic.