The Ministry of Health is to conduct a two-year nationwide survey on the spread of tuberculosis (TB) and the effectiveness of drugs being used to combat the potentially fatal disease.
Health officials hope the survey will help in the control of TB and its treatment by analyzing factors that lead to drug resistance, according to a report on the ministry's website.
A national survey in 2000 showed that 27.8 percent of Chinese tuberculosis patients were resistant to at least one of the available drugs, while 10.7 percent were resistant to more than one drug.
The easily developed resistance resulted in more deaths from the disease, said the report.
TB is a chronic disease spread by airborne particles emitted by coughing, sneezing or talking. Nine million new cases and almost two million deaths are reported annually worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
TB is the most common potentially fatal infectious disease in China. In the first quarter of this year, it killed 887 people, accounting for 43.4 percent of deaths from infectious diseases.
China has about five million TB patients, 80 percent of whom live in the countryside, with the total cases ranking second in the world after India, according to the ministry.
The government had spent 730 million yuan (91.25 million U.S. dollars) on TB control in the past five years, while local governments spent 1.3 billion yuan (162.5 million dollars). This year, the government is to allocate 378 million yuan (47.25 million dollars) to TB control.
The fund would be used to provide free drugs to TB patients, conduct epidemiological research and improve the epidemic reporting network.
By the end of 2005, the detection rate of new TB cases had reached 79 percent and the recovery rate 91 percent, a significant rise from previous years,
However, the high incidence and death rates of TB remained grave, with more cases of drug resistance and double infections of TB and HIV/AIDS and poor healthcare among the migrant population.
(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2006)