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Vice premier: China to boost int'l co-op on TB control
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Chinese Premier Wen meets Bill Gates, founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation April 1st, 2009. [Xinhua Photo]

China will work with the world to improve the cooperation on tuberculosis (TB) control and other public health issues, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday.

"Facing drug resistant TB, a global challenge, the Chinese government will strengthen prevention and treatment work," he said.

Addressing a meeting of health ministers from 32 countries and regions, Li said China, following an outlook of scientific development, would improve public health by reforming the hygiene system.

Li said the government regarded medical reform as an important measure to cope with the international financial crisis and to ensure economic growth in a rapid and stable way.

"We provide health care to the people as a public benefit, trying to ensure basic medial services for all citizens," Li said.

China started to reform its medical system this year. The government has said the key reforms included: establishment of a nationwide basic medical and health care system covering all citizens: a basic pharmaceutical system to reduce the cost of drugs; improved community-level medical and health service systems: equal access for all to basic public health services; and reform of public hospitals.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Jorge Sampaio, the UN secretary-general's special envoy to stop TB, and Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, attended the meeting.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with Gates later on Wednesday, applauding his help for China in HIV/AIDS and TB prevention and treatment.

China's health ministry and the software tycoon are teaming up to improve TB detection and treatment in the country. China will introduce new diagnostic tests, TB drugs, patient monitoring strategies and health care worker training funded with 33 million U.S. dollars from the Gates foundation.

(Xinhua News Agency April 2, 2009)

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