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Urban and Rural Health Gaps to Be Addressed

Health and medical resources are unequally distributed between the country's urban and rural areas, Health Minister Chen Zhu said Monday.

"People in the wealthier East enjoy better health and access to health services than the poorer West," Chen said at the opening of the four-day Global Forum for Health Research held in Beijing.

The government will provide primary medical care for all, Chen said.

More investment is also being channeled to strengthen disease prevention and control, and expedite the development of health services in both rural and urban communities.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said public health depends on research in many areas, including inventing new drugs and vaccines, and establishing a healthcare system that offers quality and equal access for all.

Foundation Council of Global Forum for Health Research chair Pramilla Senanayake said, however, that the last 20 years have also seen global inequities in research.

Senanayake said only a fraction of the US$126 billion spent on health research and development worldwide in 2003 focused on the poor.

Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Han Qide said the forum will provide China with a chance to learn from the experiences of other countries to deal with the country's healthcare disparities.

The forum, founded in 1998, addresses fundamental differences in healthcare worldwide. As many as 1,000 participants from more than 80 countries and regions are attending this year in Beijing.

(China Daily October 30, 2007)

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