Healthcare Hotline Bilingual for Games

A hotline will provide bilingual service in Beijing and Shanghai during the 2008 Olympic Games. The hotline, which has been around since 2006, is currently available in 31 cities but only in Chinese. According to the Ministry of Health, the service will be available for foreigners who have concerns during their stay in China. China Daily reports:

Li Rong, vice-director of the hotline national management center, and a CPPCC member, said: “We started introducing bilingual operators last year, and they have been given extra training for the Olympics.”

The hotline is open to anyone who wants to report a public health issue, she said.

It will also serve as a surveillance aid during the Olympics, Li said.

For example, if a large number of calls are received about people suffering from diarrhea, the information can be quickly analyzed and then passed on to the relevant government departments, she said.

But Li also said that many of the operators have much professional experience in public health.

The majority of the hotline’s 130-plus operators are women, with an average age of about 30, she said. “One of the problems we face is that many of the operators are young and don’t have a great deal of experience of working in a hospital.

“But with the low wages we offer, it is hard to attract top professionals,” Li said.

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