The University of Minnesota welcomed the Chinese Minister of Health, Dr. Chen Zhu, to the Twin Cities campus earlier this week. Minister Chen was in town to receive an honorary doctorate of science for his work as a groundbreaking leukemia researcher, and for his efforts to reform China’s health care system.
Minister Chen was the first to use synergistic cancer targeting therapy, and he developed the first successful model in the treatment of acute promyelocitic leukemia. His work turned this once fatal form of cancer into a curable disease.
On a broader scale, Minister Chen’s work to reform health care in China has been just as ambitious. Over the last three years, China has worked to transform healthcare by incorporating nearly universal coverage of basic health insurance, expanding coverage of essential drugs and increasing access to basic public health services.
Going forward, Minister Chen is working to accelerate health care reform in his country, including efforts to ensure universal coverage to all children who are faced with cancer or other catastrophic illnesses.
Minister Chen’s visit did generate some discussion in the news media about a controversial program in China related to organ donation. One U of M faculty member questioned the University’s decision to grant a doctorate to Minister Chen because China’s transplantation system has relied primarily on executions for organs needed for transplant.
However, another University faculty member, John R. Lake, M.D., disagreed with that assessment. Dr. Lake is a professor of medicine and surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School and executive medical director of solid organ transplantation at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
He applauded the University for recognizing Minister Chen, who he said is actually providing courageous leadership in reforming China’s transplant program.
KSTP-TV highlighted this aspect of Minister Chen’s visit in a story.
Click here to read Lake’s full letter, as well as to get a full sense of the issue of China’s transplant system and to read about the many reforms Minister Chen has helped usher in since taking office.