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TB rampant despite progress

[ 2011-03-22 10:51]     字号 [] [] []  
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The prevalence of tuberculosis in China fell slightly during the past decade but the nation still has the world's second-largest population of people with the disease, according to the findings of a new survey.

China's once-a-decade epidemiological survey on the airborne infection noted that only India has more carriers.

Currently, China has 5.23 million tuberculosis patients and an incidence rate of 459 cases per 100,000 people aged 15 and above on the mainland, according to the survey that was conducted in 2010.

The survey sampled more than 250,000 people nationwide.

The number of people with the disease in 2000 was 466 per 100,000 people.

Among the 5.23 million people with the disease, around 25 percent are infectious, experts said.

The nation has seen its rate of infectious cases of tuberculosis fall by 61 percent during the past 10 years, thanks largely to a government-initiated strategy featuring easy access to free testing and treatment, said Hao Yang, deputy director of the disease prevention and control bureau within the Ministry of Health.

Hao made the comments at a ceremony to unveil the survey results on Monday.

Despite the progress made, "China remains one of the 22 countries with a high tuberculosis burden recognized by the World Health Organization and is facing new challenges such as rising rates of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis," Hao said.

Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis is not responsive to commonly used anti-tuberculosis drugs and takes more money and time to treat, said Wang Lixia, director of the tuberculosis prevention and control center under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the survey, 6.8 percent of tuberculosis cases detected in China are multi-drug-resistant, far higher than the 2 percent average in most developed countries.

"We are working closely to expand nationwide pilot programs in limited regions to offer free treatment for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis patients," Hao said.

The current policy, which offers free treatment, was initiated in 2001 but only covers common tuberculosis.

Poor awareness and patient management may lead to a growing problem with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, hampering the fight against the disease that kills 130,000 people every year on the mainland, Wang warned.

In the future "we'll focus more on poor regions and rural migrant workers," Hao said.

The vast majority of tuberculosis patients in China are low-income rural residents, the survey found.

Despite the availability of free treatment, only 18 percent of rural patients with tuberculosis symptoms have consulted a doctor, largely because of the cost, said Chen Yude, a leading technical consultant involved with the survey.

"Health is closely related to people's socio-economic situation," he noted, citing existing regional and rural-urban gaps that affect tuberculosis prevalence on the mainland.

The prevalence of the disease in the countryside is almost twice that of cities, the survey showed. And the gap between less-developed western areas and better-off eastern areas is even greater.


1. How many people in China have TB?

2. How many people die each year on the mainland from it?

3. Which is the only counry with more cases of TB?


1. 5.23 Million.

2. 130,000.

3. India.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

TB rampant despite progress

TB rampant despite progress

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.