China's cabinet has set up a high-level committee to coordinate the country's efforts to prevent and curb the spread of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), official sources said Thursday.
The organization, known as the AIDS Prevention Committee, was headed by Vice-Premier Wu Yi, and involves 23 departments and institutions of the central government and leading officials of concerned departments of seven provincial governments.
Addressing the first meeting of the committee, Vice-Premier Wu Yi said China should increase its sense of urgency in its efforts to prevent and curb the disease across the country.
AIDS has been on the rise in China, and it will have grave impact on the country's economic and social development and social stability unless it is brought under control before it is too late, said the vice-premier, who is in charge of the country's Ministry of Health.
The committee was designed to improve the leadership of the Chinese central government over AIDS prevention and treatment, and coordinate the prevention and treatment in areas hit hard by the disease, said the vice-premier.
Wu said the committee will mainly be in charge of formulating major policies, programs regarding AIDS prevention and control, and help resolve major issues in the fight against the disease, and mobilize departments and institutions of the central government, local governments and the whole society to do a good job in the battle against AIDS.
She said China will continue to implement its policies to offer free anti-virus treatment to AIDS victims if they are farmers and the needy in urban areas, and provide free, anonymous blood tests for people in areas hit by the disease so as to have accurate information of the epidemic situation.
The country will continue to offer free education to orphans whose parents died of AIDS, and the financial costs will be covered by local governments, said the vice-premier.
She said governments will offer free AIDS consultations, screenings and anti-virus treatment to pregnant women in State-designated areas to reduce AIDS transmission from mothers to their babies, and provide assistance to needy AIDS patients, while helping AIDS patients capable of work engage in production.
Wu vowed to increase the publicity campaign to increase the awareness of AIDS prevention and control among the general public, improve their understanding of the disease, and fighting prejudice against AIDS patients and HIV carriers.
China will continue its bid to intervene in the spread of AIDS through cracking down on prostitution and use of banned drugs, expanding research and international exchange and cooperation in this field and increasing government funding for AIDS prevention and control programs.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2004)