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China to Vaccinate Against 15 Epidemics: Health Minister

China is working to vaccinate its people against 15 epidemics, up from seven now, said Chen Zhu, Chinese Health Minister in Beijing on Wednesday.

"China's national immunization projects will cover most of the epidemics in the world," Chen said at a press conference.

This is one of the efforts Chinese health authorities have made to improve preventive health service.

"In a country with 1.3 billion population, we can't count on hospitals to guarantee the public health. Most efforts should be done for preventive measures like basic sanitation and epidemic prevention," Chen said.

The public health service first should provide people with clean water, safe food and proper immunization and then easy access to basic medical treatment, he said.

"One of the key jobs for the health departments is to improve sewage and toilet facilities in rural areas," Chen said.

The country had for years spent more resources in improving hospital facilities, especially for fatal diseases, but since 2003 it has been trying to shift the focus to preventive health service.

"We have made considerable achievement in controlling epidemics like SARS and bird flu," Chen said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2007)

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