Uygurs' lives shorter than most other parts of region

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 February, 1998, 12:00am

The mainland's minority Muslim Uygurs have one of the shortest life spans in the region, new research shows.

Life expectancy for Uygurs in northwest Xinjiang averages 63 years, according to the region's Ministry of Health.

The rest of the mainland claims a typical life expectancy of 70 years.

The official People's Daily said the Xinjiang life expectancy, though low by Asian standards, represented 'a real step forward' for Uygurs.

'The average life span has risen from 33 years since the post-liberation period in the 1950s,' it said.

'Infectious diseases such as the plague, cholera and hepatitis have been effectively controlled.' Xinjiang residents have a per capita annual income of 1,136 yuan (HK$1,062) by official estimates.

Annual incomes in other rural areas average 1,926 yuan, officials estimate, and more than 4,800 yuan for mainland city-dwellers.

United Nations data indicated the life expectancy for Xinjiang's eight million Uygurs was lower than life spans in poverty-stricken neighbouring republics such as Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where the average is 68 years.

Of all countries in the region, only people in war-torn Afghanistan have a shorter life expectancy than Uygurs, at 45 years.

Authorities said 10,000 village nurses and doctors had brought better health care to Xinjiang since the PLA took control of the region in 1949. But they would not comment on the continued disparity in living conditions with neighbouring states.

LIFE EXPECTANCY IN CENTRAL ASIA 1 China ...........70 2 Kazakhstan ......68 3 Tajikistan ......67 4 Turkmenistan ....65 5 Mongolia ........65 6 Xinjiang ........63 7 Afghanistan .....45 (Source: Xinhua, People's Daily, United Nations Statistics Division)