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A new association aimed at advancing the cause of patient safety globally, the World Alliance for Patient Safety, was launched by the World Health Organization and its partners last October. Among the Alliance's initiatives is the Global Patient Safety Challenge 2005-2006: Clean Care Is Safe Care, which invites health care communities around the world to stop the spread of all nosocomial and other health care-related infections. For more information, go to http://www.who.int/patientsafety/en.
According to the BBC, the health care system in China is in deep trouble. Cited as reasons were health care costs that are growing faster than the economy, physician and pharmaceutical-company corruption, and poor access to care. The BBC report, published last December 7, cited a 2003 study by the Chinese government that showed that physicians were prescribing expensive drugs, either to boost hospital income or because they've taken bribes from pharmaceutical companies. Hardest hit are the country's rural poor, who have little in the way of either income or access to care. The study indicated that the average cost of inpatient treatment was $270; a Chinese farmer's average annual earnings were around $315.
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