China's Ministry of Health on Thursday urged local authorities to make timely reports of their responses to public health emergencies caused by disasters.
Health departments must deliver a report of the disaster and consequent disease outbreaks to higher health authorities within 24 hours of the disaster being confirmed.
Disease control and assessment of potential hazards to public health should be included in the report to be sent through a national reporting network as well as in document, said the ministry in a statement.
The disasters mentioned include those caused by human activities as well as natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, severe weather, earthquakes, forest fires, and geological, biological and maritime calamities.
The occurrence of a disaster should be confirmed by authorities above county level.
Emergency response offices had been set up by health departments in 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across China by the end of 2005, according to the ministry.
At least 66 percent of township clinics, 93.21 percent of public health institutions at and above the county level, and all local disease control centers across the country were able to report public health incidents to higher authorities through the network.
The State Council held a national meeting on emergency management last week, urging local governments to examine hidden dangers that could make natural disasters worse and improve emergency response plans.
(Xinhua News Agency July 14, 2006)