A total of 1,615 workers at health institutions were given Party or administrative punishments last year for various wrongdoings, the Ministry of Health said on its website yesterday.
Some 1,551 cases, up 50 percent on 2007, involving more than 10 million yuan ($1.5 million), down 60 percent, were handled, it said.
A total of 388 people were given Party and administrative punishments, and 178 faced criminal charges for accepting bribes related to the purchase of pharmaceuticals.
Health Minister Chen Zhu said at the national health system discipline inspection and rectification conference last week that the ministry is determined to fight corruption and improper practices in the health system.
"We will strive to resolve the issues of greatest concern to the people, and rectify the improper practices that harm the public interest," he said.
Medical institutions should increase supervision and ensure their workers have a sound moral education, he said.
"Provincial governments must ensure all medicines are centrally purchased to help combat corruption," he said.
Last year, 21 provinces had set up centralized purchasing systems, through which more than 109 billion yuan worth of medicines were purchased.
Wu Ming, a health policy and management professor at Peking University's School of Public Health, said the centralized systems can help stop corruption and improper practices in the health system.
"But it is more important that the government works out a system that ensures doctors and other health workers obey the law voluntarily," she said.
(China Daily 01/22/2009 page3)