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Wen Visits Community Health Center
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"Let grandpa feed you, OK?" Premier Wen Jiabao said gently, handing a sugar-coated pill to four-year-old Xiao Yanyu, who recently moved with her parents from north China's Inner Mongolia to Beijing.


The girl took the pill that will prevent her from possibly being paralyzed by the poliovirus and drank from a cup of water held by Wen. "Brave girl!" he praised.


The scene at the Yuetan Community Health Center in Beijing Tuesday morning highlighted China's efforts to ensure all children -- including those of permanent residents and migrant workers alike -- are given vaccines.


Today was China's 20th National Child Inoculation Day which carried the theme "same rights, same health" for children of migrant workers.


"Inoculation of children is a very important job. Children are like seedlings and only with elaborate care can they grow up healthy and strong." Wen said during his visit to the health center. He was joined by Vice Premier Wu Yi and two top municipal officials.


"It's the responsibility of government at all levels to ensure every child is inoculated on time," said Wen.


China's Ministry of Health has promised that from 2006, all children will receive necessary inoculations before going to day cares and schools. Those who haven't vaccinated will be asked to do so.


Statistics show that the number of children of migrant workers in China has reached 19.81 million, accounting for 19.37 percent of China's total migrant population.


Inoculation of migrant children is a weak link in China's health system as under the current system, regions are responsible for the health care needs of their permanent residents.


The rapid growth of the migrant population has compelled governments to break regional divisions and grant near equality of heath care, education and other benefits to all people living in their jurisdictions.


Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said earlier this month the government would offer migrant children the same inoculation service as local permanent residents.


China has not had a case of poliomyelitis since 2000, but there have been out breaks of the crippling illness in neighboring countries.


The spread of measles rose in 2005 and there have been outbreaks of Meningitis and Encephalitis B over the past two years.


"All localities must take their immunization work seriously and cover the expense of the inoculations," said Mao.


During his visit to the health center, Wen also urged community health centers to make it more convenient and less expensive to seek health care.


(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2006)

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