The Chinese government is set to invest at least 276 million
yuan (US$35.4 million) over the next two years, in a bid to improve
the living conditions and healthcare provided at more than 600 of
its leprosy rehabilitation centers.
According to a joint Ministry of Health/National Development
Reform Commission directive announced on 15 May, local authorities
are also to close down some of the smaller rehabilitation centers
-- where numbers of patients vary between one and 300 -- and
transfer patients to larger facilities.
One third of these centers are in the country's most
impoverished counties. Almost 47 percent of the center
accommodation provided here has been deemed too bad to live in,
according to Ministry of Health statistics published in April
The NDRC will bear 79 percent of the investment cost, with the
remaining 21 percent expected to come from local governments, the
Provincial governments are also being urged to take full
responsibility of leprosy sufferers' disability allowances and
Official statistics claim there to be 6,300 leprosy sufferers
nationwide, with most cases reported in the southwest of the
Leprosy, which is one of the oldest recorded diseases in the
world -- first mentioned in writing in 600 BC -- causes deformities
and nerve damage. It incubates in the human body for up to 20 years
and is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth during
contact with untreated, infected sufferers.
Leprosy ceased to be a public health problem after a cure was
made available in the 1980s. It can be cured by sustained year-long
antibiotic treatment and disability can be prevented through early
The Chinese government has for years provided free medical
treatment to leprosy suffers and has launched a continuous public
campaign to eradicate discrimination and the social stigma
surrounding the disease.
(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2007)