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National Health Scheme to Be Released Next Week

A "national environment and health act" will be released next Wednesday by 18 ministries, a notice on the website of the Ministry of Health (MOH) said Tuesday.

The act, which will remain in place until 2015, is aimed at alleviating the harm to public health caused by environmental pollution, the website said.

It has been backed by the MOH, the State Environmental Protection Administration, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

China News Service, which published information about the act yesterday, said it will be carried out in two phases: In the first phase, ending in 2010, a national evaluation system will be set up to measure the harm caused by pollution, and surveys on the extent of environmental pollution and public health will be carried out.

In the second phase, monitoring networks will be set up to track changes in the amount of pollution released, and various government bodies will work together in responding to environmental crises.

The monitoring networks will cover water for drinking and irrigation, the deterioration of the soil, extreme weather, public hygiene and the safekeeping of biological and microbiological agents in laboratories and animal farms.

In cases of emergency, public warnings will be issued immediately and government bodies will assemble teams to minimize damages.

Information platforms will be set up to coordinate actions and share information across government agencies. Information will also be publicized through the media as quickly as possible.

Surveys on the sources of pollution and about its impact on the public health will be carried out soon.

Research projects aimed at pinpointing the effects of climate change on the human body and the preventive power of traditional Chinese medicine are in the works.

(China Daily November 14, 2007)

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