Message from the Vice-Chancellor: ABC TV report about Honorary Professor Huang Jiefu

29 April 2013

ABC1 television program 7.30 has indicated it will tonight screen a report about Huang Jiefu, currently an honorary professor in the Sydney Medical School and the former vice-minister of health in China.

Earlier this month, a staff member wrote to me proposing that the University should consider revoking Huang's honorary professorship, arguing that as vice-minister he presided over a system of retrieving organs for transplantation from executed prisoners without their consent.

I have asked Sydney Medical School, which was responsible for Huang's appointment, to investigate carefully these submissions, and to recommend what action the University should take. On the basis of those recommendations, I will respond to the staff member in due course. In short, Sydney Medical School condemns the retrieval of executed prisoners' organs for transplantation in China. However, it supports Huang's work to reform China's organ transplant system, which has been recognised internationally.

In light of the likely publicity this evening around Huang Jiefu's links to the University, I wanted to draw your attention in advance to a statement the Dean of Medicine, Professor Bruce Robinson, has provided to the ABC about Sydney Medical School's support for Huang Jiefu.

"The University of Sydney Medical School condemns the retrieval of executed prisoners' organs for transplantation in China and endorses the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism that was signed in 2008.

"It is our outright opposition to the retrieval of executed prisoners' organs for transplantation that has cemented our support for our Honorary Professor Huang Jiefu, who separate to his credentials as a transplantation surgeon, has more importantly been a leading agent for change in China to its organ transplant system.

"Huang Jiefu is recognised internationally for having made significant changes to the regulation of China's organ transplantation processes in an effort to curb the practice of organ retrieval from executed prisoners.

"Huang was appointed an honorary professor in 2008 in recognition of his significant achievements in improving the Chinese health system and his ongoing involvement with the University of Sydney. His appointment was renewed in 2011 and he remains a valued contributor to the research and educational collaborations between the Medical School and our colleagues in China."

You can read Professor Robinson's full statement on the University's website.

I hope this information is useful to any member of the University community who has concerns about the ABC's program.

Yours sincerely

Michael Spence