A whistleblower who exposed HIV and hepatitis epidemics in central China in the 1990s, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives, has died aged 59.
Dr Shuping Wang lost her job, was attacked, and had her clinic vandalised after she spoke out.
She died in Utah in the US, where she moved after the scandal. A play inspired by her life is currently running in London, with the playwright calling her a “public health hero”.
Dr Wang never returned to China after leaving, saying it did not feel safe.
In 1991 in the Chinese province of Henan, Dr Wang was assigned to work at a plasma collection station. At the time, many locals sold their blood to local government-run blood banks.
It wasn’t long before she realized the station posed a huge public health risk.
Poor collection practices, including cross-contamination in blood-drawing, meant many donors were being infected with hepatitis C from other donors.
She warned senior colleagues at the station to change practices, but was ignored and according to her own account, was told that such a move would “increase costs”.
Undeterred, she reported the issue to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the ministry later announced that all donors would need to undergo hepatitis C screening – reducing the risk of the disease being spread.
But because of her whistleblowing, Dr Wang said, she was forced out of a job.
Her seniors said her actions had “impeded the business”. She was transferred, and assigned to work in a health bureau. But in 1995, she uncovered another scandal.