The Health Ministry announced that China will spend US$460 million to update the country's public healthcare system over the next two years.
Most of the money will go towards buying medical equipment, Zhao Zilin, China's health ministry official in charge of financing told a news briefing.
One hundred million dollars will be spent this year and a further 361 million next year, Zhao said.
Of this year's outlay, 35 million is earmarked for the country's national network for disease control, which played a pivotal role in tackling Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed 349 people and infected more than 5,000.
At the height of the epidemic, Beijing built a completely new 1,000-bed hospital on the city's outskirts in barely a week.
The Health Ministry admitted that there are much to be done to improve public healthcare system.
Premier Wen Jiabao said last week that over the next three years China would establish a disease control system and a mechanism to handle public emergencies.
Zhao said the country would also purchase 1,060 new emergency vehicles, advanced medical equipment for Beijing hospitals and millions of dollars worth of hepatitis B vaccine.
The ministry will also overhaul its purchasing of parts for medical equipment.
(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2003)