The Ministry of Health told local health authorities Friday they must make public their list of hospitals designated for the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients, a move that some HIV/AIDS NGOs doubt will improve access to treatment for those who are in need.
The ministry also told medical institutions to upgrade their equipment and improve staff training and the services they provide.
The ministry's notice came after a man living with HIV/AIDS was refused treatment for lung cancer by a hospital in Tianjin, reported the Beijing Times.
Medical institutions and staff members will be punished according to related laws if they refuse HIV/AIDS patients.
A medical institution that is not on the list of designated hospitals can transfer a patient with HIV/AIDS to a designated hospital or contact local health authorities for help, said the ministry.
If the patients cannot be transferred, local authorities should send medical staffers from the designated hospitals to assist treatment, the notice said.
Although NGOs dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment applauded the move, many said it will not radically solve the problem of hospitals refusing to treat infected patients.
The NGOs also complained the ministry's notice was too vague.
"The list of the designated hospital should be scrapped as it can be used as an excuse by some institutions to refuse patients," Chang Kun, director with the Zhengzhou-based HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment organization He'erbutong in Henan Province, told the Global Times Sunday.
"The notice provides no details on improving medical services, nor is there any increased funding," said Beijing Aizhixing Institute in a report released online Saturday.
The institute said the ministry also did not say how medical institutions or staff would be punished if they refused to treat people with HIV/AIDS.
It also noted that there is no reporting system available to receive complaints from patients who are treated badly.
There are currently five regulations in the country concerning HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, released either by the ministry or the State Council.