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Immunization Scheme Makes Progress amid Problems
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China has made "noticeable" progress in its immunization program, while problems still exist due to such reasons as imbalanced regional development of the program and shortage of funds, Chinese Vice Minister of Health Mao Xiaowei said at an international medical conference held in Beijing Wednesday.

Mao said that the incidence rates of chincough, diphtheria and tetanus and other epidemic diseases included in the country's immunization scheme have dropped to a historic low.

On the other hand, the program has witnessed "retrogression" in some economically backward and remote areas, Mao said at the 15th Meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) and Poliomyelitis Eradication in the Western Pacific Region, which is jointly sponsored by the World Health Organization and China's Ministry of Health.

China's national immunization scheme has successfully protected "hundreds of millions of people" from being infected by once common and deadly diseases, according to the "2004 International Review of the Expanded Program on Immunizations in China" prepared by the secretariat of the meeting.

Nevertheless, statistics show that 10 poor provinces and autonomous regions failed to reach the national coverage target of either equaling or exceeding 85 percent in terms of the number of people having been inoculated against, Bacillus-Calmette-Geurrin, oral polio, combined diptheria-pertussis-tetanus and measles.

The report suggests that special attention should be given to inoculation work in remote and backward areas and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, so as to make the scheme benefit more people.

(Xinhua News Agency June 9, 2005)

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