An editor at the China Economic Times has been removed after defending a journalist who exposed how the shoddy handling of vaccines may have led to the deaths and serious illnesses of children in Shanxi province, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Investigative journalist Wang Keqin reported March 17 how a gross failure to refrigerate vaccines had led to the deaths of four children and the illness of at least 74 others in Shanxi. According to his report, unsafe vaccines have been used in Shanxi over the past four years. The vaccines were intended to guard against encephalitis, hepatitis B, rabies and other diseases. And now, after continuing to defend Wang, Bao Yuehang, chief editor of the paper for 15 years, has been sacked.
Joe Amon notes in the Wall Street Journal that local health officials denied the story as "basically untrue," and threatened parents and prevented them from seeking help from higher authorities. In addition, the whistleblower, an employee of the Shanxi Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was demoted. Wang says there had been no serious effort to investigate his claims, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Chinese government has means to tackle corruption and protect the health of the country's population; however, the laws lack an enforcement mechanism to ensure accountability, Amon notes. He adds that it shouldn't be surprising that local officials prioritize economic gain at the expense of public health.