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Fighting TB: Government steps up
( 2001-06-05 11:19 ) (1 )

The Chinese Government and the World Health Organization (WHO) are to step up efforts to curb tuberculosis (TB) in China, where millions of people are being infected by the disease every year, officials said.

The Chinese Government has allocated a special fund of 40 million yuan (US$4.8 million) this year to prevent and control TB, especially in western counties and other poverty-stricken areas, according to Chen Xianyi, deputy director of the diseases control department at the Ministry of Health.

The ministry will also soon launch a TB control project using money loaned from the World Bank and cash donated by the UK's Department for International Development. The project is expected to cover 600 million people in 16 provinces.

At the same time, with the help of WHO, another TB control project supported by the Japanese Government will start in 2002, which will provide anti-TB medicine and medical equipment to 11 poor Chinese provinces, said Chen.

The latest programmes were revealed at a WHO regional group meeting, aimed at stopping the spread of TB, which opened Monday in Beijing.

More than 60 top government health officials, national TB-programme managers, international TB experts and representatives from international aid agencies are attending the 3-day meeting to combat a disease which kills about 1,000 people every day in East Asia, including China and Viet Nam.

Success in achieving the "Stop TB" goal will depend largely on financial resources. The WHO has called on all countries to ensure adequate resources are available to halt the spread of TB, said Shigeru Omi, the WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific Region.

According to official statistics, China has the second highest number of TB patients in the world, next only to India.

In the early 1950s, TB was one of China's top killers, but has been reduced thanks to control efforts made by the government.

Since the beginning of 1990s, TB has made a comeback in China as it has in many developed countries.

One reason is that the inappropriate treatment has turned 41 per cent of those with the illness into drug-resistant TB patients. They go on to infect another 28 per cent who will also become drug-resistant.

China currently has 5 million TB patients, among whom 2 million are contagious.

The State Council has worked out plans to control TB over the next 10 years.



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