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TB Hits Migrant Workers Hardest
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Today is the 11th World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. Among the total TB patients in China, about 5 million people, 80 percent are from rural areas, according to official statistics from the Ministry of Health. And around 100 million farmers are flocking to cities for more job opportunities and money.


For example, in Beijing where the population is at least 15 million, the mobile population took more than half the share of the total reported TB cases of about 3,500 patients last year.


Despite favorable policies made for non-residential people, including free medical tests and treatments, curbing TB in cities is still a big challenge, said Zhang Lixing, president of the Chinese Anti-Tuberculosis Association.


Due to the fear of being fired by bosses or isolated from other people many TB patients are reluctant to seek treatment. As a result treatment is delayed.


Early detection and treatment of TB patients is crucial. And if a case can be diagnosed in the early stages the chances of a patient making a complete recovery are high, said Zhang.


He indicated that anyone developing TB symptoms and coughing for three weeks should undergo a medical check-up which is crucial to fighting the disease.


Various levels of government have increased their efforts to control the disease among the migrant population.


In cities children of farmers turned city dwellers can be vaccinated for free by local health workers. And TB patients also have access to free medical treatment in nearby hospitals for infectious diseases.


"In fact to protect the former farmers now working alongside us means we protect ourselves because the bacteria doesn’t care if you are an urban or a rural resident," said Zhang.


Listed as the ‘No. 1’ epidemic killer in China, TB claimed 6,713 lives, with 1.26 million newly reported cases last year. These figures were up 365 percent and 29 percent respectively over the previous year.


"Fighting against tuberculosis unremittingly is the slogan for this year and depicts our goal for the future," Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, told a news conference on March 10.


(China Daily March 24, 2006)

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