BEIJING, Aug.10 (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of Health said Tuesday hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD), measles inoculation and the construction of a mental health network are the priorities for its annual disease prevention plan.
Ministry spokesman Deng Haihua said at a press conference in Beijing the ministry will closely supervise work on the three fronts.
HFMD broke out in China in 2008. A complete cycle of development usually takes four to five years and so the outbreak reached its peak this year.
In June alone, 343,100 people were diagnosed with HFMD, double the number from the same period last year, and 179 of them died of the disease.
In June, 5,815 cases of measles were reported and one case resulted in death.
This year's spate of violent assaults on school children and suicides by factory workers has raised concern about China's mental health network.
Apart from disease prevention and control, the ministry also vowed to promote rural health services as another major task.
Deng said one goal is complete health information records for 20 percent of rural residents by the end of the year, with priority given to children, women, the elderly and those suffering chronic illnesses.
The ministry will improve rural residents' access to health services by building at least one health clinic in each village, licensing rural health practitioners and selling drugs at rural clinics with a zero mark-up.
Also at the press conference, He Jinguo, a health ministry official in charge of funding, said China will increase government health spending in the country's less developed western regions but without specifying by how much.
He said the central government allocated 86.33 billion yuan (12.7 billion U.S. dollars) for health in the western regions between 2001 and 2009, representing 46.7 percent of the national health spending total.
He said it is necessary the central government support the western regions' health program because the region lacks adequate health facilities and personnel.
Still, thanks to government subsidies, health conditions in the western regions have improved, He added.
For instance, 4.42 million hygienic toilets were built in the region between 2004 and now, and all tuberculosis sufferers now have access to therapy known as directly observed threrapy short-course (DOTS).
China's western region comprises of 12 provinces and autonomous regions and is home to less than 30 percent of China's total population.