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Improving Rural Public Health
More than 90 percent of children in rural areas will be inoculated against common epidemic diseases by 2010, under a health-care blueprint announced by the central government yesterday.

Another aim of the rural health-care blueprint is that 95 percent of counties implement modern measures against tuberculosis by 2010.

Also by 2010, 75 percent of townships will offer HIV carriers and AIDS patients appropriate health care and 95 percent of counties should have eliminated iodine deficiency.

These targets are just some of those covered by the State Council resolution on strengthening health-care work in rural areas. The resolution was released yesterday in Beijing at a national conference on public health work in rural areas, being held by the State Council, China's cabinet.

President Jiang Zemin, in a letter to the conference, called on governments at all levels to take concrete measures to improve the health of the rural population.

He said that health-care work is directly linked to the prosperity of rural areas and the realization of China's economic and social objectives.

The State Council resolution also aims to improve disease control in rural areas.

It will be guaranteed that all township health centers can help pregnant women give birth, while county-level heath centers should be able to deal with dystocia (difficult or prolonged childbirth), the resolution said.

By 2010, the mortality rate of pregnant women giving birth should have decreased by 25 percent compared with 2000, while the infant mortality rate should have dropped by 20 percent.

Measures will be taken to lower the incidence of birth defects and improve the health of infants.

The resolution said that different regions, based on their circumstances, should provide the rural population with access to tap water and hygienic washrooms.

Knowledge about the prevention of diseases, sanitation and health care should be spread among the rural population through various means to help rural people form good sanitary habits.

According to the resolution, a complete health-care system will be established in rural areas and will be composed of government, collective, social and private medical institutions.

Efforts should be made to attract funds from various channels to develop non-governmental medical institutions and to encourage medical staff in urban areas to work in rural areas.

The resolution said that health-care staff in rural areas should receive training to upgrade their skills. Higher-learning institutions specializing in medical science should consider the actual needs of rural areas and offer syllabuses that can meet those needs.

(China Daily October 30, 2002)

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