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Chinese healthier as life expectancy rises to 73
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The average life expectancy of Chinese increased to 73 in 2005, 1.6 years more than in 2000, the Ministry of Health has said, according to a China News Service report yesterday.

Life expectancy was only 36.5 years in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded.

The infant death rate decreased to 1.53 percent last year, down from 2.55 percent in 2003, the ministry said in a report covering the country's health developments from 2003 to 2007.

By the end of last year, the number of health organizations jumped to 315,000 while the government spent 1.05 trillion yuan (US$144.27 billion), or 4.82 percent of China's gross domestic product, on health care, the report said.

About 1.8 billion yuan of the central government's budget was devoted to AIDS treatment in 2007 as the number of people estimated to be living with HIV on the mainland may have risen to 700,000 last year, the report added.

By the end of November, about 39,000 AIDS patients had received treatment, the report said.

It also said that up to 30 million people were estimated to have joined the country's medical insurance network by the end of last year after a basic medical insurance trial program was launched in July.

The trial was designed to cover the needs of primary and middle school students, the elderly and the unemployed in 79 cities.

Meanwhile, the rural cooperative medical insurance system, initiated in 2003 to offer farmers basic health care, covered 730 million rural residents, or 86 percent of the rural population, by the end of September, the report said.

(Shanghai Daily January 7, 2008)

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