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Medical service to be restored in quake zone
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The Ministry of Health said on Thursday that basic medical services will be restored by the end of this month in the quake area in the southwest part of the country, and it confirmed that there had been no major epidemics there.

"Basic medical care and epidemic prevention will resume by the end of July in every county, township and temporary shelter in the quake area," said Mao Qun'an, the ministry spokesman, at a press conference in Beijing.

By the end of September, the authorities will have put up temporary buildings for every health institution at the county and township levels and make sure regular medical service and animal epidemic prevention has resumed, he said.

By the end of this year, local hospitals will be fully functioning with proper facilities and trained workers in the whole quake zone, he said.

The epidemic reporting network covers 80 percent of Sichuan Province, the worst-hit province, he said, and daily analysis showed that the incidence of contagious diseases was lower than in previous years.

The May 12 quake killed about 70,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands and damaged the health care system, with hospitals destroyed and staff killed. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the government considered epidemic prevention as a priority, just behind saving lives.

The ministry has deployed medical staff from other parts of the country to help survivors.

More than 2,400 such workers from 18 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have been transferred to the region where they will help rebuild the health care system, Mao said.

They included 872 medical workers, 760 workers involved with disease prevention, 549 health supervisors and 228 logistics staff.

Medical teams were sent to immunize children against hepatitis and encephalitis B, he said.

They also built toilets, waste dumps and water purification facilities.

As of Thursday, about 96,000 injured people had been treated in hospitals and 5,578 were still receiving treatment.

"Hospitals and medical camps face financial difficulties, although the central and local governments have allocated large sums," Mao said. So far, medical care in the worst-hit areas has been free. When that changes will depend on local conditions.

(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2008)

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