BEIJING, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Over the next three years, some 10million rural Chinese women will get free cervical cancer screening under a government-sponsored program, the health ministry announced here Thursday.
Under the project, mainly financed by the central government, 1.2 million rural women would also get free breast cancer exams, the ministry said.
The program will cover 221 counties, mostly in the less developed central and western regions.
More than 100,000 new cervical cancer cases are recorded in China every year, accounting for one fifth of the world's total.
Shen Keng, a professor from the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said although evidence showed that 90 percent of cervical cancers could be effectively prevented by getting tests every two years, fewer than 5 percent of those cases were in China.
The program forms part of the country's ambitious 850-billion-yuan (124 billion U.S. dollars) health care reform plan, ranging from vaccination drives to improved cooking and sanitary facilities in rural areas.
China unveiled a three-year plan on health care reform in April. Under the plan (2009-2011), the government will provide universal access to basic health insurance, introduction of an essential drug system, improve primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and pilot reform of state-run hospitals.