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Better Health Care Lifts Life Span

The life expectancy of people living in South China's Guangdong Province will climb from the current 74.52 years to 75.5 years by 2005, thanks to the improving health care services in the area.

The 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) of Public Health Work of Guangdong Province issued by the Bureau of Public Health of Guangdong, offers a more comprehensive health care system, according to officials from the bureau.

More conveniences and better medical services will benefit the public, according to the blueprint's goal that by 2005, basic community medical care services will cover 60 percent of city dwellers, with 90 percent to be covered by 2015. Treatment will be provided for the treatment of common illnesses, and frequently used medicines and vaccinations will be available within half an hour's walk or ride in 2005.

Another goal is to keep the infant death rate from rising above 1.6 per thousand, while the mortality of children under the age of 5 will be kept under 2 per thousand.

Local people have already enjoyed reasonable prices for medical services in recent years.

In 1999 and 2000, the cost of public health measures was controlled at 5 to 6 percent of the local gross domestic product (GDP). Medical revenues have grown by 10.4 percent, lower than the 15 percent growth in prescriptions in the past two years, according to Huang Qingdao, director general of the Bureau of Public Health of Guangdong. Local people have saved a total of 1.73 billion yuan (US$208 million) thanks to the effective cost control measures, said Huang.

But, due to uneven economic development in the province, the medical network is underdeveloped in some poor rural areas.

In this regard, medical equipment, hospital buildings and medical talents have been allocated to those areas. Figures from the bureau show that in the past five years, 4.20 billion yuan (US$506 million) has been poured into medical construction projects for poverty-stricken areas. Free medical education is also available to those areas, helping to improve the quality of medical care.

Huang also predicted that within 15 years, the province will see a modernization of the medical care system, including a rational allocation of medical resources, better medical service, legalized administration and Internet-based medical services.

Fields like nursing care for the elderly, and services for the dying will be expanded.

(China Daily December 7, 2001)

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