Beijing: A mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party has faced rare criticism from netizens who accused it of being insensitive for advising patients suffering from untreatable diseases to give up their “unrealistic fantasy” of getting cured after a cancer- stricken student’s death.
It was the third time in a week that People’s Daily has waded into the debate around the death of 21-year-old student Wei Zexi who had an unsuccessful experimental cancer treatment at the No 2 Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps.
Before he died last month, Wei said in an online post that he sought out the therapy after it topped the results of internet search engine Baidu for a rare cancer. Wei and his family spent more than 200,000 yuan on the promise that the “state-of-the-art” therapy would “give him 20 years”.
The commentary said it was a familiar “classic” case of someone seeking medical help “Chinese-style” with Wei’s parents selling everything they could and going everywhere possible for treatment only to lose money and a life.
It said people should consider whether to exhaust all their resources chasing a cure for an untreatable disease or to let the condition follow its natural course.
“The most reasonable choice is to respect the order of nature and give up an unrealistic fantasy to face death and life calmly,” the commentary said.
It also said terminally ill patients without a background in science always hoped for a miracle and were vulnerable to frauds offering the false prospect of a cure. It called on the government to improve the medical system to ensure each patient had access to high-quality family doctors like those in the West so that patients would have access to information.
More than 250,000 people commented on the piece posted on Sina.com, with many accusing the party mouthpiece of insensitivity and not focusing on official failures.
“So nobody has been punished and this article basically says Wei deserves it?,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted one commentator.
“The piece says nothing about the supervisory responsibility of government agencies but says patients should better educate themselves and be scientific,” a blogger said.
“The tragedy of Wei highlighted the lack of supervision in the medical sector. There are many other such irresponsible hospitals,” a third blogger commented.
Commentaries in People’s Daily rarely evokes such response as it amounts to criticism of the Communist Party of China.
In two previous editorials, People’s Daily accused Baidu of being irresponsible and called for better regulation of private medical institutions but neither ignited such a backlash as yesterday’s commentary, the Post report said.