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Medical Assistants to Leaders Join in Anti-poverty Drive

Tell a farmer living in a remote village: Don't be surprised if one day he comes up with someone who used to be the personal doctor to the late Chairman Mao, in the near future.

A group of leading medical experts responsible for the health of State and Party leaders, now and in the past, have formed a unique team to participate in China's persistent poverty-eradication campaign, by offering medical check-ups for poor people across the country.

A press conference-cum-launching ceremony was held on Tuesday to announce the launching of the "Sino-Health Authority",a series of cross-country tours by these experts to give lectures on health issues for poor people.

Chen Jianguo, the spokesman for the program, said it is part of the country's efforts to meet the goal of "Health for All" by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The program is sponsored by the Primary Health Care Foundation of China and it is expected to cover 200,000 poor people in these cities, according to Chen, who is a deputy chairman of the board and secretary-general of the foundation.

In China, health problems have been one of the main factors to throw people into poverty. Each year, over 10 million poor people in the country fall into the category of the poor, or return to poverty after they were relieved of poverty in the past, according to official figures.

In the coming five years, the central government will allocate over 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) into building up medical service networks for poor villagers, at the three levels of county, township and village. By 2010, a new-type cooperative medical care system will be set up for the country's rural people.

(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2006)

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