An anti-tuberculosis (TB) program assisted by World Bank loans has been launched in northwest China's Gansu Province.
More than 26 million local residents are expected to benefit from the program which is to last seven years.
During the program, 90,000 TB patients will be treated free of charge. Over 95 percent of people in Gansu will have access to a service called "directly observed treatment, shortcourse" (DOTS), which is recommended by the World Health Organization as the leading weapon against TB.
TB, a lung disease transmitted by airborne bacteria, claims 130,000 lives each year in China. In Gansu alone, there are some 70,000 TB patients and the number grows by 21,000 annually.
The provincial government will allocate 114.9 million yuan (US$13.9 million) to the program in addition to the World Bank loans and funds from the central government.
(Xinhua News Agency July 14, 2002)