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China in emergency vaccination drive in quake-hit areas

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 27, 2008
China said Tuesday it would provide mass emergency vaccinations in quake-hit areas to curb potential epidemics, but reported no major disease outbreaks so far.

"By June 15, emergency inoculation of vulnerable people will be completed including vaccines against Hepatitis A and Encephalitis B," Sun Jiahai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told reporters Tuesday.

He did not clarify how many would be inoculated, or who was classed as "vulnerable."

China will also store 100,000 vaccines against cholera, 20,000 against rabies, and 30,000 for measles, mumps and rubella, Sun said.

Qi Xiaoqiu, director of the disease control bureau of the Health Ministry, warned that people's immunity had been weakened following the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Sichuan province more than two weeks ago.

"The immunity capacity of the local people has been weakened, so they will become more vulnerable to epidemics," he warned.

But he said there had been no big disease outbreaks, although an increase in cases of diarrhoea and fever had been reported.

Stopping outbreaks among the five million people displaced in the disaster has become a top concern for China as it continues its recovery efforts.

Medical infrastructure has been severely damaged in the quake-hit zones, adding to the challenges in preventing and controlling diseases.

"Disease prevention control and supervision agencies in Sichuan province have also suffered a lot after the earthquake in terms of housing, equipment and personnel," Qi said.

More than 67,000 people have been killed in the quake, and over 20,000 people are still missing, which means the death toll could top 87,000.

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Japan PM pledges 560 million dollars to fight diseases
Tokyo (AFP) May 23, 2008
Japan announced Friday it will give 560 million dollars to help fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as it seeks to make aid to Africa a major theme of its chairmanship of the G8 group.

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