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China Steps Up Spending to Control TB
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As part of their determined efforts to control tuberculosis (TB) the Chinese government is to allocate 378 million yuan (US$47.25 million) to fight it, Vice Finance Minister Wang Jun said Thursday.

The government has spent 730 million yuan (US$91.25 million) on TB control in the last five years while local governments have contributed 1.3 billion yuan (US$162.5 million).

This latest expenditure represented a rise of 25.4 percent over last year Wang told a national tele-conference on TB prevention and control.

The fund would be used to provide free drugs to TB patients throughout the country, conduct epidemiological research and improve the epidemic reporting network, he said.

The central government would also budget 45 million yuan (US$5.6 million) to purchase drugs on behalf of international aid agencies for regional projects.

The country has around five million TB patients with 80 percent of them living in the countryside, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.

By the end of 2005, the detection rate of new TB cases had reached 79 percent and the recovery rate stood at 91 percent, a significant rise from previous years, said Vice Health Minister Wang Longde.

A total of 2.05 million lung tuberculosis patients had been offered free treatment in the past five years, he said.

However, the situation in China remained serious in terms of the high incidence of the disease, the number of deaths, the increasing number of sufferers whose bodies were resistant to the medication available, an increase in patients with double infections of TB and HIV/AIDS and poor management of the migrant population, Wang Longde noted.

TB has been identified as the main fatal infectious disease in China in official reports. In the first quarter of this year 887 people died of TB accounting for 43.4 percent of the total deaths from infectious diseases. Last month 160 people died of the illness which accounted for 27 percent of the total number of deaths from infection diseases.

In the next five years the government intends to identify and treat 2 million infectious lung TB patients, according to the Ministry of Health.

Tuberculosis is a chronic disease that can spread by airborne particles emitted by coughing, sneezing or talking. Nine million new TB cases and nearly 2 million TB deaths are reported annually worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

China is one of 22 countries with a high incidence of TB and is second only to India in the number of reported cases.

Projects launched by the World Bank, the Global Fund, the World Health Organization and other international organizations have assisted China with 570 million yuan (US$71.25 million) in the past five years to help  control TB.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2006)

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