China investigates Red Cross hospitals
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China investigates Red Cross hospitals

An investigation of hospitals affiliated with China’s Red Cross has turned its sights on Hebei province, a month after a clinic there made headlines nationwide for “pornographic” ads encouraging college students to get abortions.

China’s Red Cross reported last week that its Hebei branch had convened a work conference on July 13, tasked with reviewing hospitals in the province that operate under the organization’s name.

The report specifically noted that the provincial Red Cross was investigating a hospital in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, whose advertisements for abortion procedures have been labeled aggressive and misleading, even sparking protests by a group of concerned mothers.

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Pic: CFP

The Hebei investigation is part of a nationwide effort launched in June to ensure the quality and competence of Red Cross hospitals in China.

“Currently, some hospitals take on the title of the Red Cross, which could help build trust with patients, but in fact operate merely in pursuit of profit,” said Zhao Baige, executive vice president the Red Cross Society of China who has been tasked with restoring the organization’s reputation after a series of scandals last year.

Wang Ping, director of the Red Cross relief and health department, told the China Daily that terms for granting hospitals the right to operate under the Red Cross name vary widely between and even within provinces, and said that there has been little oversight from higher level authorities.

“There was a lack of rules regulating the practice and verifying the quality of such hospitals,” Wang said.

The investigations are already showing results.  Only weeks after the nationwide campaign was announced, authorities in the far west region of Xinjiang said that three hospitals had been stripped of their “Red Cross” name because their “aptitude doesn’t match requirements.”

Earlier this month, Beijing’s Red Cross also announced that it would put out a plan to investigate affiliated hospitals in August.

The Chinese capital’s Red Cross branch also reported that it had collected 37 million yuan in donations over the first six months of the year.

The organization said that this number was roughly similar to the amount collected in the same period in 2011, before the Guo Meimei scandal that led many to question the group’s financial integrity.