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Free Medicare Programme Launched

About 10,000 poverty-stricken people who suffer from indigestion and rheumatism will receive free medicine before Spring Festival next month.

It is part of a new nationwide programme launched by China's Young Volunteers Action Guiding Centre to care for the health problems of the disadvantaged.

According to Hou Baosen, who directs the programme, every candidate has to provide evidence to prove their economic and health status. They will then receive free health examination and consultation from local volunteer doctors and free medicines for two courses of treatment.

It is estimated 5 million yuan (US$602,000) worth of medicine will be handed over - all donated by a pharmacy group in Jilin Province.

"Young volunteers have received positive comments from the public in recent years," said centre Director Lu Yongzheng.

The volunteer course has been developing very fast in the past years with progress at a rate that other countries cannot match, Lu said.

Young volunteers have so far provided 4 billion hours of voluntary services to the community, Lu said.

The centre plans to establish more young volunteer stations to cover at least half of major cities' communities, offering more help to the elderly.

(China Daily January 11, 2002)

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