About one in eight conscripts reporting for military service faint or experience discomfort during blood tests, statistics released by the New Taipei City (新北市) Government’s Civil Affairs Department showed.
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported on Sunday that of the approximately 23,000 men who start mandatory military service each year, about 3,000 feel sick or pass out when their blood is drawn as part of their medical examination.
Fear of needles or the sight of blood makes blood tests the least favorite medical exam for most conscripts, followed by genital examinations and vision tests, the data showed.
Chen Chia-pei (陳嘉珮), a veteran nurse at New Taipei City Hospital’s Banciao (板橋) Branch, said that in almost every medical exam held for conscripts over the past decade, a number paled at the sight of blood.
“On average, at least one or two conscripts faint each day before we even start taking blood. It is quite common to find that young draftees need to lie down for a while after their blood test,” Chen said.
Banciao Branch head nurse Tsai Ya-chen (蔡雅媜) said that to help avoid conscripts fainting during blood tests, nurses are required to ask “are you afraid of needles?” prior to the procedure.
“While most of them answer ‘no,’ some still turn pale, feel dizzy or pass out after I stick the needle in,” Tsai said.
Tsai said she then either asks the young man to lie down or give him a sugar cube to restore his blood glucose levels.
She added that sugar cubes have become a necessary tool for these medical checkups because of the growing number of conscripts who have a blood phobia.
Sun Shao-kuang (孫紹光), director of the health center at the Greater Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital’s Zuoying Branch, said young people today pale in comparison physically with their peers in the previous generation.
“Young conscripts nowadays are generally more emaciated. In particular, college graduates and city-bred men tend to be in a worse shape than those who grew up in the countryside or are high-school graduates,” Sun said.
Sun said that aside from a fear of blood, a majority of draftees from Greater Kaohsiung also had deteriorating eyesight.
Yu Wen-ruey (余文瑞), a family doctor at Taipei City Hospital’s Yangming Branch, said his experience differed slightly, with more conscripts feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed during genital exams compared with the number who fainted during blood tests.