China to accelerate reforms of regional disease control agencies

Updated: Apr 17, 2023 chinadaily.com.cn Print
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China will step up reforms of regional disease control agencies this year and build their key capacities in surveillance, epidemiological investigation and emergency response, a senior health official said on Saturday.

The National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control was inaugurated in March 2021 as part of China's efforts to strengthen its disease control system and address weaknesses exposed during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Shen Hongbing, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and vice-director of the new administration, said that a key task this year is to implement reforms of provincial-level, city-level and county-level disease control institutions.

He spoke during the opening ceremony of the 2023 National Vaccines and Health Conference held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Saturday.

Shen said that local disease control institutions should be capable of conducting regular monitoring and issuing early warnings, evaluating risks, performing epidemiological surveys and laboratory tests, rolling out emergency response and supervision.

Over the past years, Shen said that the funding for and scientific prowess of the country's disease control system have both improved significantly.

For instance, the amount of subsidy for basic health public services per capital has risen to 89 yuan ($13) this year, he said.

Meanwhile, China has built the world's largest direct reporting system for infectious diseases and shortened the time it takes to report epidemic information from five days to two hours. The country has also set up an all-encompassing network of infectious disease testing laboratories and a national pathogen identification network.

"They (these networks) have enabled us to promptly identify over 300 types of pathogens within 72 hours," he said. "All provincial-level disease control centers and 90 percent of municipal disease control centers are now able to conduct nucleic acid tests and isolating virus."

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