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Legislation, enforcement key to resolve organ trafficking — Chinese expert

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Dr Huang Jiefu, the Chairman of China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee on Wednesday said legislation and law enforcement were key to resolving the issue of organ trafficking worldwide.

The Chinese expert made the statement at the 2017 Pontifical Academy Summit in the Vatican on how to combat organ trafficking.

The summit is aimed at developing an alliance with individuals committed to combating organ trafficking, transplant tourism and engaging health authorities to achieve a prohibition of organ trafficking as “a form of human slavery”.

Experts gathered at the summit to discuss the situation of organ trafficking and transplant tourism in a bid to set up further guidelines and ethical rules in curbing illegal activities worldwide.

The summit, organised by the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations, hopes to lay the groundwork for moral and appropriate solutions based on human dignity, freedom, justice and peace.

At the summit, Huang presented China’s programme from 2010 to 2016 which prohibits the use of organs from executed prisoners.

Huang said that the total number of deceased donor liver and kidney transplants during the six years was 27,600 and the Chinese Health Ministry had submitted the detailed statistics to the Geneva-based World Health Organisation (WHO) for public release.

Since Jan. 1, 2015, death penalty prisoners’ organs have not been allowed to be used under any circumstances, and community-based Chinese citizen organ donation has become the only legitimate source of transplant organs in China, Huang said.

Huang, former Vice Health Minister, described the transition of organ source from executed prisoners to the voluntary community-based organ donation as “an arduous journey full of joys and sorrows’’.

In 2007, China issued regulations on voluntary organ donation and banned organ trading.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said China processed 4,080 organ donations in 2016, up nearly 50 per cent from a year ago.

China had processed a total of nearly 10,000 organ donations by the end of 2016, while Chinese per Million Population in donation rates reached 2.98 million.

Huang said there used to be hundreds of foreigners coming to China every year for transplant tourism prior to the establishment of the new system.

The Chinese government banned the transplant tourism in 2009 and has been tough in combating related illegal activities.

From 2007 to 2016, authorities formed joint task forces, cracked down on 32 intermediaries, investigated 18 medical institutions, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned 174 people, including 50 medical personnel, and eliminated 14 black market dens, he said.

Huang proposed that WHO establish a task force to help eradicate organ trafficking worldwide.

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