BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- China's health authorities and experts have stressed primary-level medical institutions' role in the prevention and control of tuberculosis.
China has made headway in the prevention and control of tuberculosis in recent years and the diagnosis and treatment of the disease have been improved, said an official with the National Health Commission (NHC).
"Grassroots medical health systems should play a greater role in this field," said the NHC official.
The tuberculosis mortality rate has dropped steadily in China, where over 80 percent of the patients are from rural areas or migrant population, which has posed a big challenge for disease prevention and control.
"Community health centers should play a greater role in follow-up visits as a way to reduce medical expenses," said Chen Zhongdan, an official of the China Office of the World Health Organization.
In recent years, the tuberculosis-control program co-launched by NHC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has carried out pilot projects in community-level areas including Tongxiang in Zhejiang Province, Wuzhong in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Dehui in Jilin Province.
"These projects have been effective," said Wang Lusheng, a research fellow at the National Health Development Research Center.
"TB-afflicted areas concentrate in west China and rural areas. If control policies and measures can be improved in these places, fewer people will suffer from poverty caused by the disease," Wang said.
The NHC will initiate a campaign against tuberculosis with other relevant authorities in a bid to eliminate the epidemic, said Li Bin, deputy director of the NHC.
This year's World Tuberculosis Day falls on Sunday.