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Health care to expand

CHINA has vowed to expand the basic medical insurance to another 72 million people in 2009, the first-year goal of an ambitious 850 billion yuan (US$124 billion) health care reform plan.

The figure was revealed in Beijing yesterday at a conference held by the State Council, or the Cabinet. Also, the country will guarantee basic medical health care service for 6.07 million laid-off workers of state-owned companies by the end of this year.

"2009 is the first year for the health care reform plan. We must specify responsibilities and goals to ensure a good start," said a statement released after the meeting, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Another goal is to set up long-term cooperation between more than 900 city hospitals and 2,000 county-level hospitals across the country to exchange medical resources.

As part of the plan, the country has already started a government-sponsored program to offer free cervical cancer screening to some 10 million rural women and breast cancer exams for 1.2 million over the next three years.


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