China will invest 800 million yuan (US$93.4 million), taken from national treasury bonds, to initiate a program in China's 12 western provinces and regions to improve local health care service.
One major goal of the project is to improve the comprehensive capacity of disease prevention and control institutions at various levels in these areas in the coming five to 10 years, said Yu Guangzhou yesterday.
Yu, vice-minister of the State Development Planning Commission, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the project which is jointly sponsored by his commission and the Ministry of Health.
Presently, about 80 percent of China's medical resources are enjoyed by about 30 percent of population all living in urban areas.
But in western China, where some local people are still suffering from poverty and minimal medical service, it is urgent to upgrade medical services to meet local needs, said Yu.
The project will establish or improve disease control centers at provincial levels in western China to strengthen their ability to counter potential epidemics, deal with public health problems and provide treatment for chronic diseases.
Facilities to monitor diseases and epidemics, vaccination and inoculation services and disease diagnosis facilities of grass-root medical units will also benefit from the project.
The western regions of China have the highest incidence of many of the most serious infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and of endemic problems, such as iodine deficiency and Kaschin-Beck disease, said Qi Xiaoqiu, director of the Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Health.
Yunnan Province in Southwest China and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Northwest China are listed as the two areas with the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS cases.
The incidence of tuberculosis in western China is also the highest in the country, with 130,000 people dying of the disease every year.
Priority will be given to improving facilities in disease control centers in western China's more than 200 counties, which have a high incidence of infectious and endemic diseases, Yu added.
(China Daily October 15, 2002)