BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- As many as 50,000 people die of tuberculosis annually in China, with about 1 million new cases reported each year, a health official said on Thursday.
That indicates that one person dies of the disease every ten minutes, according to Wang Yu, director with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently, there are 5 million Chinese people who suffer from active tuberculosis or TB, ranking China second following India among 22 countries that are most heavily plagued by the disease.
About 120,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) are estimated to occur each year, ranking China first in the world and posing challenges to public health.
The mortality rate of tuberculosis saw an 80 percent drop from 1990 to 2010 in China due to free diagnosis and treatment provided by the country's health departments, according to Wang.
He noted that the prevalence rate was also halved during the same period.
However, insufficient medical staff and funds cannot meet the needs of tuberculosis treatment in the country's rural areas, according to Wang.
He said that health departments at all levels should mobilize social resources to accelerate the building of the country's tuberculosis prevention system.
Even though tuberculosis is preventable and treatable, the disease kills 1.4 million people worldwide each year, according to Wang.
The 18th World Tuberculosis Day falls on March 24.
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