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Int'l Funds to Improve Nation's Healthcare
A multi-million-dollar internationally funded project aimed at improving China's ability to fight SARS and other infectious diseases was launched yesterday in Beijing.

The project, which is financed by the World Bank and government agencies from Britain, Canada and Japan, will focus on addressing SARS-related diagnosis, clinical management and infection control in the event of a further outbreak.

It will also contribute to the overall strengthening of China's public health system in infectious disease prevention and control by improving the surveillance and case reporting systems and setting up alert and response mechanisms to address any future public health crisis.

The project will be funded by a US$11.5 million World Bank loan, a 3 million pound (US$5 million) grant from Britain's Department for International Development, a 5 million Canadian dollar (US$3.7 million) grant from the Canadian International Development Agency, and a US$2 million grant from the Japan Social Development Fund.

Wang Longde, vice-minister of health, expressed gratitude to the World Bank and the donors. He said the launch of the project is an excellent example of international co-operation in fighting SARS.

Yukon Huang, director of the World Bank's China Programme, commended China's efforts in tackling the disease.

"We expect that the experience and insights gained from this SARS response programme will feed into a longer-term initiative, suitable for external donor support, that is focused on broader health sector reform and development concerns," he said.

Henk Bekedam, representative of the World Health Organization in China, said the nation's success in fighting SARS is critical in eliminating it as a global threat.

Eight provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions that have been heavily affected - Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Henan, Guangxi, Hebei, Tianjin, Guangdong and Beijing - will benefit directly from the programme.

World Bank officials also shew confidence that the benefits of the project will go well beyond China.

(China Daily July 8, 2003)

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