CHINA> Regional
Carriers of anemia gene are denied civil servant jobs
By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-18 09:16

GUANGZHOU: Some applicants here have been denied civil service jobs by local government authorities because they failed "unnecessary" physical checkups, sources said yesterday.

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"As far as I know, more than 10 people like me have been refused civil servant jobs although we all passed written tests and interviews," said an applicant surnamed Xie.

Xie was asked by the personnel department in Foshan of Guangdong province to undergo a physical examination after he passed tests and interviews in April.

Xie did not pass the physical tests because he is a carrier of the thalassemia gene.

"But the country's regulation for civil servant jobs does not specify that thalassemia gene carriers cannot pass the physical test," Xie said.

Under the general physical examination standard of civil servant enrollment, an applicant will be denied the job if he or she develops anemia, a condition caused by various mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and difficulty concentrating.

According to the standard, a man will be diagnosed with thalassemia if his hemoglobin (HGB) is lower than120 g/L.

"How can I be seen as a thalassemia patient? Yes, I am a thalassemia carrier but my HGB is 136 g/L, which is shown on the physical report," Xie asked.

In Guangdong province, one in nine people, or about 12 percent of its population, have developed thalassemia, a form of chronic anemia, according to the Guangzhou-based Southern Hospital.

"They are no different from others in terms of working and living. It is absolutely wrong to deny their job offers because of their light thalassemia," said Li Chunfu, a doctor with the hospital. Thalassemia gene carriers or those with light symptoms usually do not develop physical signs, Li said. Denying thalassemia gene carriers jobs as public servants is employment discrimination, he said.

Guangdong and the neighboring autonomous region of Guangxi have reported a rising number of thalassemia cases in recent years, Li said.

An official with the Foshan personnel bureau, who declined to be named, told China Daily yesterday that traditionally, thalassemia gene carriers have been denied jobs as public servants. He declined to elaborate.