China will spend 10.4 billion yuan (US$1.35 billion) of its 31 billion annual healthcare budget to support public healthcare in rural and urban areas, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday.
The countryside will take the lion's share, with 9.4 billion yuan allocated for the establishment of the rural cooperative health system in 23 provinces and regions across the country. The other 1.03 billion yuan will be used to promote the urban public health system in 22 provinces and regions in central and western China, according to the ministry.
Farmers have been joining the rural cooperative health system in droves as the ministry brings all districts that have a rural population of more than 50 percent into its financing scheme. It looks as though the State Council's ambitious target of covering 80 percent of the country's rural areas by the end of 2007 will be met.
In the cities, the ministry has offered three to four yuan per capita to support disease prevention and control, women's health, children and the elderly, and public health education in local communities.
In March, the Chinese government signed off on a 31.3 billion yuan (US$4.1 billion) healthcare budget for 2007, up 86.8 percent on the previous year.
(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2007)