China sets up Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

The public health system in China — which, according to Wang Huanzeng, director-general of the Ministry of Health personnel department is "outdated" — is to have a major facelift. Its new Beijing headquarters will be modelled closely on the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, whose director, Jeffrey Koplan, is to be the first Senior Advisor to the new "China CDC".

Kurt Tong of the US Embassy in Beijing, who has been closely involved in providing advice to China, said he thought this could be the beginning of a rapid transformation of the old Academy of Health in Beijing. "There's a feeling here that the public health services could use some improvement" Tong told the Bulletin. To spearhead the change, the Academy is being expanded and converted from an academic research centre "where everyone was called `professor"' into an institution more directly focused on public health, Tong said.

"There's been a lot of interest in China in how the US Centers for Disease Control operates, and at the same time the US CDC has shown itself very willing to help. So we'll be exchanging information on institutional organization and funding mechanisms, and even on physical architecture" Tong said.

While reporting to the Ministry of Health, China CDC will provide scientific evidence to underpin health policy, recommend prevention and control measures, and monitor and evaluate interventions. It will have twelve divisions covering an enormous range of issues and responsibilities, including infectious diseases, environmental health, rural water supply, nuclear safety, cancer, and maternal and child health. It will also affiliate 17 other existing professional health institutes in China.

China Daily reported health ministry director-general Wang Huanzeng as saying "China's disease-prevention system has not kept up with the development of various diseases and public health problems brought by industrialization, urbanization and the ageing of the population," and that the new CDC would help to tackle that problem.

A new campus for the organization is being built on the northern outskirts of Beijing, to house what are expected to be its rapidly growing staff and research facilities.

Robert Walgate, Bulletin

World Health Organization Genebra - Genebra - Switzerland