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China to set up health archives for all rural residents
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China is setting up health archives for its 900 million-strong rural population with the aim of improving services for them, said the Ministry of Health Thursday.

A ministry's working plan says the initiative will first be carried out in pilot cities and counties nationwide this year to iron out any problems and decide on viable frameworks.

By the end of this year, at least five percent of rural residents in each provincial area should have a health archive. The percentage should be increased to at least 30 percent by 2011, the ministry said.

The archives would be established at household level and be based on information from routine health check-ups, medical services received, and in-home surveys conducted by township and village clinics.

The program will prioritize key groups including the aged, pregnant, children, the disabled, and people with chronic diseases.

Information about the person involved and his or her family will be included in the archive.

The archive will also record any major health problems and areas of potential concern, such as drug allergies, heredity problems, infectious and chronic diseases, disabilities, alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity.

The ministry has ordered local government to ensure funding for the initiative and invited capital from all social sectors for the program.

The initiative is part of China's three-year plan on health care reform which was unveiled in April this year, whose aim is to lay a solid foundation for equitable and universal access to essential health care for everyone in China by 2020.

The 850 billion yuan (US$124 billion) plan for 2009 to 2011 will provide for universal access to basic health insurance, the introduction of an essential drugs system, improved primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and pilot reform of State-run hospitals.

(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2009)

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