The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) on Tuesday - the 60th World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day - kicked off a weeklong campaign to provide access to free health services for China's rural poor.
During the campaign, the RCSC will organize artistic performances to raise money, send medicine to the countryside and provide free medical services for rural residents and migrant workers.
"China's unevenly developed economy has resulted in medical services in some remote and backward western rural areas being unaffordable and inadequate," said Jiang Yiman, vice chairman of the RCSC.
"We hope the fund-raising drive will lessen farmers' economic burdens and let them share the fruits of China's reform and opening up drive," Jiang said.
The RCSC has been involved in the trial of a rural cooperative medicare system since 2005.
In 2006, the society provided 24.6 million yuan for 40 counties for the trial and 302,600 farmers have benefited from the RCSC-organized free medical services, free physical examinations and discounted surgery.
Under the new cooperative medical care program launched in 2003,a farmer participant pays 10 yuan (US$1.3) a year, while the state, provincial, municipal and county governments jointly put in another 40 yuan (US$5.2) for the cooperative fund.
The participant can have part of his expenses reimbursed in case of hospitalization.
According to the government work report by Premier Wen Jiabao in March, the trial area of the rural cooperative medical care system will be expanded this year to cover more than 80 percent of all counties, county-level cities and city districts in China.
(Xinhua News Agency May 9, 2007)