Ti­bet plan calls for con­trol of par­a­sitic worms

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By DAQIONG in Lhasa and WANG XIAODONG in Bei­jing

A par­a­sitic disease plagu­ing many parts of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion will be con­trolled by the end of 2020, un­der a plan re­leased by the re­gional gov­ern­ment.

The disease — echinococ­co­sis — is caused by a type of tiny tape­worm and in­fects peo­ple and an­i­mals such as dogs and foxes. It dam­ages ma­jor or­gans such as the liver, lungs and brain and can be fa­tal.

It is found through­out Ti­bet, with about 49,900 peo­ple in­fected, ac­count­ing for 1.66 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, the high­est rate in China, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

The in­ci­dence is high­est among herds­men, at 3.66 per­cent, the sur­vey found.

The disease places se­vere bur­dens on pa­tients and their fam­i­lies and is a ma­jor rea­son for poverty in Ti­bet, the re­gional health com­mis­sion said.

Un­der the plan, Ti­bet’s re­gional gov­ern­ment will in­ten­sify pre­ven­tion and con­trol ef­forts in the next three years, aim­ing to bring the in­ci­dence of the disease be­low 1 per­cent in at least 40 coun­ties by 2020.

Ef­forts in­clude im­prov­ing health education and hy­giene among the public, con­duct­ing disease screen­ings and pro­vid­ing more sub­si­dies for med­i­cal treat­ment so pa­tients’ ba­sic med­i­cal ex­pen­di­tures can be cov­ered.

Mean­while, the gov­ern­ment will in­ten­sify its su­per­vi­sion of dogs — ma­jor car­ri­ers of the disease in Ti­bet. It will build shel­ters for strays and treat in­fected dogs un­til they are free of the disease.

It is ur­gent to pro­mote knowl­edge about how to pre­vent the disease.” Dong Ji­a­hong, spe­cial­ist at Bei­jing Ts­inghua Chang­gung Hos­pi­tal

Un­der the plan, the gov­ern­ment will also im­prove public fa­cil­i­ties to en­sure a clean and safe wa­ter sup­ply and pro­mote pol­lu­tion-free toi­lets.

Ti­bet faces many chal­lenges in elim­i­nat­ing the disease, in­clud­ing poor health fa­cil­i­ties, un­hy­gienic con­di­tions in most pas­ture ar­eas and a lack of med­i­cal tal­ent, the com­mis­sion said.

“Pre­ven­tion is key,” said Dong Ji­a­hong, a spe­cial­ist in liver and gall­blad­der dis­eases at Bei­jing Ts­inghua Chang­gung Hos­pi­tal who pro­vided free surg­eries to pa­tients in Ganzi, Sichuan prov­ince, in July.

“It is ur­gent to pro­mote knowl­edge about how to pre­vent the disease, such as sep­a­rat­ing hu­mans and live­stock and pay­ing more at­ten­tion to per­sonal hy­giene in echinococ­co­sisepi­demic re­gions,” Dong said, adding that screen­ing work and blood tests are also ur­gently needed.

Since last year, the hos­pi­tal said it has re­ceived at least five pa­tients, in­clud­ing three from Ti­bet, with ter­mi­nal liver disease re­lated to echinococ­co­sis, and some have re­ceived liver trans­plants.

Con­tact the writers at wangx­i­aodong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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