Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 4 News List

US ready to help China tackle rural health care issues

AGENCIES , BEIJING

The US is ready to help China tackle its rural health care problems and better integrate traditional with Western medicine, Mike Leavitt, the US Health and Human Services Secretary, said yesterday.

Leavitt said he would focus on those areas, along with regulatory cooperation and technical exchanges, as part of a high-level dialogue between China and the US that will also address trade, currency and other disputes. Leavitt is part of a Cabinet delegation led by US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

"We're coming to have this dialogue not only because we believe it's good for the Chinese government but because we believe it's good for the United States for China to be a strong, vibrant, integrated, harmonious society," Leavitt told reporters.

"We want to see how we can be helpful because we will benefit economically if China is prosperous and their environment and their health care and their energy ... are sustainable," he said.

Leavitt, wrapping up a week-long visit, said he had been impressed with China's commitment to fight infectious diseases, but that transparency remained a talking point.

"It's very clear to me from my conversations from the village level all the way to the health ministry that China takes infectious disease seriously," Leavitt told a news conference in Beijing.

"I think it's safe to say that following their experience with SARS that they became highly focused on the collection of information and in the dissemination of public information necessary to combat them early and aggressively," he said.

The growing popularity of complementary treatments, such as traditional Chinese medicine, was another area for cooperation.

"The Chinese clearly view their traditional Chinese medicine as providing benefit and they want to know how to integrate it better with Western medicine. There's clearly in my mind something to be learned from their experience. I do think it's a dialogue we ought to engage in," he said.

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