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Joint Project to Prevent Blindness in Rural China

A Chinese university and a Japanese university have jointly launched a three-year program to help prevent and control the occurrence of blindness in China's poverty-ridden rural areas.

The Sino-Japanese center for blindness prevention and treatment, a 4-million-yuan (US$483,600) joint project between the Chinese Medical Sciences University (CMSU) and Kanazawa Medical University of Japan, went into operation Wednesday.

The program is funded by the Japanese government and is the first of such program that has been ever carried out in China.

Zhao Qun, vice-president of the CMSU, said the two universities would carry out investigations in the causes of eye diseases that lead to blindness in Liuhezi Town in Dengta City of the northeastern province of Liaoning, Fenghuang Town of Sanya City in south China's Hainan Province and Yulong County of Lijiang City in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Zhao said the program team would also train 20 young ophthalmologists for nine provinces and autonomous regions in the theories on eye diseases. The trainees are expected to join the program team in carrying out prevention and treatment of blindness and other eye diseases in the project areas.

Zhang Jinsong, a professor with CMSU and an expert on eye disease, said that currently the pathogenesis of eye diseases that lead to blindness remain unknown in China, especially in rural areas.

He said he hoped their investigation results could be used as reference data by relevant departments in drafting policies on prevention and treatment of blindness in China in the future.

(Xinhau News Agency March 27, 2004)

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