Free TB care plan for mainland poor

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 September, 2004, 12:00am

100m yuan cash injection aims to fight killer disease in rural areas

The national budget for fighting tuberculosis (TB) will be raised significantly this year, to provide free treatment for the poor, according to a health official.

'In the coming few years, China is going to spend as much as 100 million yuan on tuberculosis control,' Yu Jingjin , deputy director of the disease control department in the Ministry of Health, told the 55th session of World Health Organisation's western Pacific regional meeting yesterday, Xinhua reported.

China had been investing 40 million yuan annually in its fight against tuberculosis in the past few years from 2001, Dr Yu said in Shanghai.

'Over 80 per cent of China's tuberculosis patients live in rural areas, particularly in poverty-stricken places where TB is [causing further poverty],' he said.

China has 4.5 million TB sufferers, the second-largest tuberculosis population in the world, Ministry of Health research shows.

In recent efforts to rein in the endemic disease across the nation, the central government is encouraging village and community doctors to monitor tuberculosis. It was offering a reward for each correctly reported case.

Vice-minister of Health Wang Longde said on Tuesday that the authorities hoped to raise the detection rate of TB cases by setting aside a special fund to reward local doctors.

The so-called 'barefoot doctors' in rural areas are playing an important role for early detection of TB patients and they should be better motivated to raise the detection rate of cases, according to Liu Xiaoqiu , an expert at the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's TB centre.

He also said prevention, and the treatment of TB patients, required a big investment in personnel.

Official figures show that the mainland has 1.45 million new infectious cases and 130,000 die each year. The airborne disease is killing more people in the country than any other infectious diseases.

Without preventive measures, a TB carrier could infect between 10 and 15 people in one year and the mainland could have 20 million to 30 million more patients in the coming decade, according to Mr Wang.

The WHO urges all member countries in the west Pacific region, including the mainland, to raise case detection rates to 70 per cent by next year. China's detection rate was 45 per cent last year.

WHO officials said the mainland 'still has significant work to do' if it is to meet the 70 per cent target.