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Free Medical Care for the Poor

A group of medical professionals have left Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, to offer free medical care to the poor in the province's countryside.

The group is part of a 10-year national project to relieve poverty through providing free primary health care, sponsored by the China Primary Health Care Foundation.

The medical group, made up of about 20 volunteers from the province's medical institutions, are to offer free medical treatment in 30 counties over the next six months.

During their trip, they will also spread healthcare knowledge to people along their way, provide training to township and village medical centers, donate medical facilities and conduct health surveys.

In Heilongjiang Province, the project is expected to last two to three years.

Yan Xiaozheng, secretary-general of the China Primary Health Care Foundation, said that other provinces would soon follow in the steps of Heilongjiang.

The foundation was established by the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party and the Ministry of Health in December 1996.

Authoritative statistics show 20 to 30 percent of China's poor owe their poverty to health problems. The percentage is as high as60 percent in some areas.

(Xinhua News Agency May 30, 2002)

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