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Child, 2, dies in illegal clinic

By Deng Jingyin (Global Times)

14:31, July 02, 2012

Police are investigating the death of 2-year-old child, who had been given an injection at an illegally-run clinic in Tongzhou district.

The clinic was shut down as police began an investigation into the circumstances of the child's death Saturday.

The suspect, a woman who rented a house in Dagaoli village to use as a clinic, was taken in for questioning, the Beijing News reported.

She allegedly ran the clinic without a medical license from Beijing health authorities, and had previously been punished for practicing medicine illegally, the report said.

Witnesses said that the child was taken to the clinic by its mother for an injection on Thursday afternoon. Around 6 pm, police officers and health department officials arrived at the scene, the witnesses said.

The Beijing News reported that outside the house, there was no clinic sign, and the room looked untidy, with a messy sofa and bed inside.

The child's gender, the parents and the illness the child suffered could not be confirmed with the authorities Sunday. Calls to the village committee and township government went unanswered, and police could not be reached for comment.

Several residents from Dagaoli village contacted by the Global Times said that they had not heard of the tragedy, but claimed there are a number of illegal clinics in the area.

"I never go to this kind of clinic to see a doctor due to the poor hygiene and illegal practices, which may cause a tragedy like this case you mentioned," a villager, surnamed Peng, said Sunday.

However, despite this child's death and other similar incidents, low-income groups may have no alternative but to use such clinics.

"Medicine is relatively cheap at illegal clinics. Public hospitals are expensive for us and it's not easy to get registered in the hospitals," said an anonymous migrant worker, who also lives in the village, on Sunday.

Beijing health department has cracked down on 250 illegal clinics in the first quarter of this year. According to a previous report by the People's Daily in 2009, there were about 1,200 illegal clinics in the city by the end of 2009.

Ma Yanming, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Health, warned that illegal clinics may bring great harm to patients.

"You can't guarantee the doctors, equipment, technology and the quality of treatment in those clinics. They always use expired medicines or equipment purchased via illegal channels, which may result in harm to people's health," Ma said.

If there is an incident, patients would not receive compensation either, he said.

It is easy to know whether the clinic is illegal, said Ma, as it will not have a valid medical license, or other necessary documentation.

But illegal clinics are tough to find, since they are hidden in residential areas in rural Beijing, said Ma.

"We currently depend on the reporting system from residents. If residents find any hint [of an illegal clinic], please call 12320 to report to us," he noted.

Zhou Zijun, a professor at the School of Public Health in Peking University, said that most illegal clinics are in rural areas of the city, and could pose severe health risks for patients.

"Migrant workers and villagers need them because they are much cheaper than public hospitals and close to their homes," Zhou said.

But most staff are either inexperienced, or have no medical background at all, he said.

"Government could better train the clinic staff, while at the same time implementing a crackdown on unlicensed medical practitioners," he noted.

The child's death is not an isolated case. A woman at an illegal cosmetic surgery clinic near Sihui Subway Station, Chaoyang district, who was receiving liposuction, stopped breathing during the operation Thursday. She recovered after being transferred to Civil Aviation General Hospital. Those involved with the clinic, which did not have a medical license or certification, are under investigation, the Beijing Times reported Saturday.

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