Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Rest Assured, Your Life is in Our Hands
Today the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee (BOCOG) held a news conference talking about the medical service preparations made ahead of the Games in August.
And they want to reassure everyone coming to Beijing they have everything all planned for, from epidemic outbreaks to bio-terrorism, and natural disasters (hopefully not).
Jin Dapeng, Party Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau and head of the medical support group of BOCOG gave a laundry list of the number of ambulances, hospitals, amounts of Rh positive and negative blood, as well as vaccinations they have prepared.
A big concern is the possibility of infectious diseases. Jin kept repeating that China had learned its lesson from SARS in 2003, saying they will do their utmost to prevent an outbreak. That is why Beijing has asked for cooperation with its seven neighbouring provinces and municipalities including Tianjin, Shanxi, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Jilin and Liaoning to be vigilant about any diseases.
A foreign reporter asked about the problem of mosquitoes, as those buggers in Asia have a bigger bite than the ones in the West, that could possibly cause severe allergic reactions, or the West Nile virus. And as some venues are near water, what are organizers doing to minimize the mosquito population?
One of Jin's colleagues Liu Zejun answered in general about "vector biologies" which include mosquitoes, rats and flies. He said the city was doing inspections to make sure concentrations of these pests in a 2km radius weren't higher than the national standard -- and aimed for them to be one point lower. He didn't elaborate on what that meant or on specific measures taken to eradicate these "vector biologies".
A journalist from The Guardian asked Jin to describe their worst case scenario and then explain how they would deal with the situation.
Not willing to be baited, Jin replied in a dramatic voice, "Prevention is the most important," he preached. "We have to resolve issues in advance to prevent them from happening. Now we have professionals dedicated to the Olympic Games. All medical staff are prepared for extreme situations. We have plans in place."
Another from Associated Press said these few days the air quality has been bad (it has been really dusty) and those with asthma have been told to stay indoors. He asked what kind of things the organizers had in place in terms of dealing with asthma cases.
Jin, with a bulldog kind of face, just said that air quality "is a daunting task for us", but promised the air would be better in August. And for those with asthma, there are medical services available for them, he said.
But perhaps the best evidence to prove the medical team was up to the task during the Games was when Chen Jing, another of Jin's colleagues, explained how Beijing helped with relief work after the Sichuan earthquake struck.
"At 2:38pm the earthquake hit. And at 5pm we received a notice," she recalled. "In two hours we got a staff of 53 to go to the quake-stricken area the following day."
She added there were eight groups of people, totalling 590 medical staff with various expertise who went, and they brought with them 70 ambulances and three support vehicles as well as medical supplies.
Jin then jumped on the bandwagon, adding he was one of the medical staff who went to treat the victims of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake that killed some 280,000. But he didn't say much more about his experiences.
In the end he reiterated Beijing is ready -- medically at least.
Let's hope so.