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Prevention is the healthy option to fight disease

By Yang Wanli  (China Daily)

08:17, November 24, 2011

A doctor put plasters on a boy's back at a traditional Chinese medical hospital in Bozhou, Anhui province. The treatment is used with chronic diseases including bronchitis, asthma and arthritis. Zhang Yanlin / for China Daily

Lifestyle choices can really make a huge difference, Yang Wanli reports in Beijing.

On the first floor of a red-brick apartment house built in the early 1980s, people move busily in and out of the entrance beneath a green sign, Yaojiajing Residential Service Center. It is a largely unremarkable, even shabby place in the capital, but inside its walls it nurtures a fundamental advance in healthcare - the prevention of chronic disease.

It is an early November morning, and Feng Qiuyun, 69, is teaching neighbors a poem she wrote. It provides tips on maintaining a healthy life, such as how much salt a person should take daily and the best time of the day to exercise.

She has also devised a series of exercises targeting seniors. The program even includes therapeutic massage. Feng learned these skills at the center.

"I joined in 2005, and learned things about health that I was never aware of before," she said. "Most of my peers are used to taking pills to maintain their health and they pay little attention to habits that can lead to disease.

"But doctors at the center taught us how to better treat our diseases and prevent other diseases. It also saved us lots of money as we take fewer pills, do more exercise, have healthy diets and feel refreshed."

Yaojiajing center was established in 1998, in Beijing's Xicheng district, as the country's first provider of medical service and long-term health guidance to people in a residential setting.

It has collected residents' health information ever since, and all 10,000 or so people living in the area have their own health documents.

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