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TB Claims Nearly 10,000 Lives a year in Guangxi

Health officials say the fight against tuberculosis remains arduous in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where the disease is claiming nearly 10,000 lives a year -- the highest mortality rate for any single disease in the region.


Guangxi is one of the Chinese localities that report the highest incidence of tuberculosis. The regional health department estimates 15 million people, or one third of its population, have been infected and about 360,000 are suffering from active TB in the lungs.


The 2000 national survey on the epidemic found 651 active TB cases out of every 100,000 people in Guangxi, which meant the region's incidence rate of the disease had been rising at an annual 3.38 percent since 1990.


The regional health department has beefed up control and treatment of tuberculosis since 2001 by spending more than US$9 million of World Bank loans and 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) of government appropriation on medical facilities. Meanwhile, the autonomous region has also built a comprehensive network to ensure timely detection and treatment of tuberculosis using the new technology of "Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course" (DOTS), a multi-level approach recommended by the World Health Organization 10 years ago, involving at least six months of patient treatment and surveillance.


But health officials have called for an additional 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) at least from the central and regional coffers in 2005 to help 50 poverty-stricken counties improve medical facilities and make TB treatment more accessible and affordable to those in need.


Ministry of Health statistics say China has about 4.5 million TB patients, the second largest number in the world. The disease is claiming 130,000 lives each year.   

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2004)

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