China calls for better co-op in addressing global public health crisis

11:12, December 11, 2009      

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China on Thursday called for efforts to strengthen cooperation in response to the global public health crisis and to increase support to the health sector of the developing countries.

The statement came as Liu Zhenmin, the Chinese deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, was taking the floor at the general debate of the UN General Assembly on global health and foreign policy.

"In today's world of increasing economic globalization, the impact of grave public health contingencies also tends to be globalized," Liu said. "No single country can deal with it alone."

"The international community should pool its resources and work together, strengthen the sharing of information, technology and experience in prevention and control, so as to contain the spread of major epidemics around the world, including H1N1 influenza," he said.

Over the past year, the international financial and economic crisis has posed grave challenges to global public health, he said. "The health departments of various countries all face a host of difficulties such as budget cuts and increasing imbalance between supply and demand."

In the meantime, H1N1 influenza continues to spread around the world, posing a direct threat to public health and social and economic development of all countries, he said.

Liu called for more support to the developing countries in the health sector. "Three specific MDG (Millennium Development Goals) targets are directly related to public health."

"At present, the progress of the developing countries towards the health-related MDG targets has been slow," he said. "The situation of infant and maternal health is particularly worrying. The developed countries should maintain and increase their support and assistance to the health sector of the developing countries and help the latter in capacity building so that they can be better prepared to cope with the impact of the financial crisis."

The senior Chinese diplomat also called upon the international community to establish a sound public health system.

"Apart from serving as a solid basis in dealing with various new epidemics or sudden outbreaks of pandemic disease, a strong public health system is also an inherent requirement for the improvement of people's well-being," he said.

"Countries should make the improvement of public health system a priority in their economic and social development planning, increase financial input in the health sector and make every effort to reduce the impact of the crisis on poor families and vulnerable groups," he said. "Efforts must be made to strength inter-agency policy coordination, mobilize the participation of the civil society and increase the coverage of the public health service system."

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the development of public health, he said. "Over the past 60 years since the founding of the new China, great progress has been made in the health and medical care sector."

The total number of health and medical care institutions has increased from 3,670 to 278,000 and the average life expectancy up to 73 year from 35 years, he said. "The maternal mortality rate has dropped from 1,500/100,000 down to 34.2/100,000 and infant mortality rate from 200/1000 to 14.9/1000. China also reached ahead of schedule the MDG targets in the reduction of the mortality rate of infants and children under five and in the prevention and treatment of malaria."

In addressing the negative impact of the international financial crisis, the Chinese government has set as a priority the reform of the medical and health system with a view to increasing domestic demand and improving the well-being of the people, he said.

China has actively participated in the health-related international cooperation and has established broad multi-channel and multi-faceted contact with other countries and relevant international organizations, Liu said.

This year, China hosted the Asia-Pacific regional preparatory meeting for the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review on health-related MDGs and the International Scientific Symposium on H1N1 Pandemic Response and Preparedness.

Since the outbreak of H1N1 influenza, the Chinese government has responded seriously and taken a series of vigorous, orderly and effective measures in prevention and control, thus containing the spread of the disease to the maximum extent possible, he said.

China will continue its unrelenting effort to improve the monitoring of the pandemic, strengthen as a priority the control and prevention in schools, communities, towns and villages, speed up the vaccination of susceptible and vulnerable groups, and minimize the number of serious cases, he said. "At the same time, the Chinese government will take further steps to raise the public awareness of the importance of prevention and make adequate preparations for any possible changes of the pandemic so as to ensure public health and smooth and sound economic development."

Source: Xinhua
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