Cancer patient 'denied work' in E China

By Chen Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-17 08:00
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Xiao Shen, a 33-year-old woman from Zhejiang province, has won a fight against kidney cancer but has lost a fight against an employer who discriminated against her because of her cancer history.

"I could only get a temporary contract even though I passed the exam twice for a permanent job as an midwife in my hospital," she was quoted by the Qianjiang Evening News as saying yesterday.

"This is unfair for cancer patients. Employers' discrimination is harder to take than being a cancer patient," she said.

Shen, who declined to be identified for her privacy, said she suffered cancer seven years ago but has recovered fully after a successful operation.

She has worked for a hospital in Wenzhou city of Zhejiang for more than 10 years. Her left kidney was removed in an operation in 2003 and she was cured of the cancer.

She took the exam to become a formal midwife in 2005, and she ranked sixth among the candidates. However, hospital exam authorities suggested she postpone the application on the grounds that she needed more time to recover from her operation.

"I took their suggestion as I thought I still had a chance at that time," she said.

Another four years passed, and Shen took the exam again this August, receiving the highest score among those who took the exam.

But she did not pass the physical checkup due to her cancer history, even though her cancer recheck showed she had a stable health situation, with no evidence of a cancer reoccurrence.

According to the local health authority, the employment standards for the health system are similar to the health requirements for civil servant jobs, according to the news report.

"We deny her application because of her cancer history in line with Article 8 of the regulation on physical inspection standards for civil servants," an anonymous Ouhai Health Bureau official was quoted as saying yesterday by Qianjiang Evening News.

A patient who has a benign tumor or hepatocirrhosis is unqualified to be a civil servant, the regulation says.

But a related interpretation of the regulation stipulates that people who have recovered from a benign tumor with no signs of reoccurrence should be treated as qualified after being checked by medical experts.

Huang Baishu, a doctor at the Ruian Hospital who conducted Shen's checkup, reportedly acknowledged that the decision to disqualify her was based on the regulation for civil servant jobs, though her checkup indexes were normal.

Cancer rates in China soared 41.48 percent from 1990 to 2000 and is expected to increase nearly 28 percent from 2000 to 2010 due to the high rates of tobacco use, worsening pollution, and an aging population whose life expectancy has nearly doubled to 71.1 years since 1949, according to the medical portal