China / Society

China's NGOs praised for role in fighting HIV/AIDS

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-11-30 10:33

BEIJING - The Chinese government has pledged to spend more in combating HIV/AIDS, while promising to give greater support to non-government organizations (NGOs) in this field.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Monday presided over a plenary meeting of the State Council commission on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, according to an official press release issued on Wednesday.

Li, who heads the commission, said because the government holds prime responsibility on the matter, more government funds should be spent on the anti-AIDS efforts, including the expansion of free antiviral treatment among the people living with HIV/AIDS.

The government will study the possibility to have anti-HIV infection treatment spending covered by the basic medical insurance scheme for urban residents, as what has been done in rural areas, Li said.

At the meeting, participants heard a report from the Ministry of Health on the country's HIV/AIDS control, which said the mortality rate of AIDS patients who were receiving treatment has almost halved.

The rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission has plunged to 7.4 percent at present, from 34.8 percent in 2007, according to the meeting.

However, Li warned that China still faces a grave situation in HIV/AIDS prevention and control, which requires more collaborations between government organs and greater participation of non-governmental groups.

"HIV/AIDS is a difficult medical problem yet to be completely overcome by human beings, and it is not only a medical issue but also a social challenge," Li was quoted as saying in the press release.

Prior to the State Council meeting, Li had a discussion with a group of NGO representatives from across the country, including retired doctors, college students and volunteers, some of whom are infected by HIV, according to the press release.

Li spoke highly of domestic NGOs' role in combating HIV/AIDS. "What you have done is wholly charitable and the principles of mutual support and mutual assistance symbolize the brilliance of human nature and the power of humanism," he told them.

China's near-1,000 NGOs involved in battling HIV/AIDS represent an indispensable, special force, Li said, vowing the government will continue supporting these organizations.

"In the future, we will pay greater attention to the voice of NGOs," he told the representatives, who expressed wishes to receive more supports in terms of government's purchase of services, funds, and taxation policies.

UNICEF representative to China Gillian Mellsop, who also attended the meeting with Li, underscored China's achievements in dealing with the issue, particularly in giving care to patients and controlling mother-to-child HIV transmission.

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