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Sound Social Security, Medical Service in Xinjiang

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Xinjiang has gradually built a sound social-security system and improved medical service, said a white paper issued in Beijing Monday.

Since 1978, Xinjiang's social-security system has gradually taken shape to provide basic living guarantees for the people, said the paper titled Development and Progress in Xinjiang issued by the Information Office of the State Council.

The 2008 figures show that Xinjiang had 799 community services facilities in urban areas. About 9,645,700 people had taken part in the five major insurance programs, of basic pension insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, industrial injury insurance, and maternity insurance.

A total of 638,000 urban residents are receiving the minimum living allowance from the government. Social welfare institutions of various types had 19,000 beds by the end of 2008, taking in 14,000 residents under their care.

From July 2007, the rural minimum living allowance system was introduced, providing subsidies for farmers and herders with annual average per-capita income lower than 700 yuan. In 2008, 1,310,000 farmers and herders in extreme poverty received the subsidies.

By the end of 2007, medical aid services were available in every city, district and county in Xinjiang. In 2008 the government invested 310 million yuan in medical assistance services for a total of 2,164,000 users.

From 1978 to 2008, Xinjiang's impoverished population decreased from 5.32 million to 2.53 million, and their living and working conditions have been significantly improved.

From 2001 to 2007, 78 percent of the government poverty-alleviation funds, work-relief subsidies and subsidized loans went to southern Xinjiang, where 70 percent of poverty-alleviation programs were based.

Medical service to local residents have greatly enhanced over the past decades.

According to the paper, the overall mortality rate was 20.82 for every 1,000 people in Xinjiang before 1949, while infant mortality rate was an astonishing 420 to 600 for every 1,000 births. The average life expectancy was below 30 years.

In 2008, the general mortality rate was 4.88 for every 1,000 persons, and infant mortality was 29.76 per 1,000 births. The population's average life expectancy has reached 72 years.

In 1949, Xinjiang had only 54 medical centers, located in a few cities and towns, with a total of 696 beds. Every 10,000 persons had to share 1.6 beds and 0.19 doctors.

In the past 60 years, the central government has been making more and more investments in Xinjiang's medical services. By 2008,Xinjiang had altogether 7,238 medical service centers, including 1,629 hospitals with a total of 93,600 beds, and 43,800 doctors. That means 36 hospital beds and 21 doctors for every 10,000 people.

Some endemic diseases, such as smallpox, have been eradicated, and the incidence of other endemic and epidemic diseases has been significantly reduced.

Since the mid 1970s, Xinjiang has implemented a planned immunization program, with the vaccination rate rising steadily over the years.

Health services in farming and pastoral areas have significantly improved, and a disease-prevention and healthcare network has been established in counties, townships and villages.

Xinjiang implemented the new rural cooperative medical care system in 2003. And 94.6 percent of the rural areas were included in the system by 2008, covering 10,059,000 farmers and herders.

(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2009)