Fondation Merieux, a French foundation, signed an agreement with China's Ministry of Health on Thursday, agreeing to increase its investment in China's tuberculosis (TB) prevention and control program and studies on new pathogens.
The signing kicked off a new round of the TB prevention and control program and studies on new pathogens, which will last from 2012 to 2017.
The French side will invest 1 million euros (1.32 million U.S. dollars) to jointly conduct prevention and control activities on multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) with China, and 1.5 million euros to study new pathogens.
The funds will be used to support China in policy-making, training laboratory personnel and boosting laboratory infrastructure construction in the country's underdeveloped western regions.
China and the foundation have been cooperating in the field of infectious diseases since 2005. During the first round of the TB cooperation program, which started in 2007, the French side invested 1 million euros in upgrading county-level TB laboratory infrastructures and personnel training in both northeast Heilongjiang Province and east Zhejiang Province. The two sides also explored MDR-TB early detection methods.
Chen Zhu, China's health minister, said the Chinese government has attached great importance to TB prevention and control, effectively halting the spread of the TB epidemic.
However, Chen continued, China remains among the world's 22 TB high-burden countries, and has the world's second-highest TB population. China reports 120,000 new cases of MDR-TB annually, or one-fourth of the world's total.
According to the latest official statistics, there are currently 4.99 million TB patients in China.
Furthermore, the new pathogen studies program began in 2005 when the two sides co-founded a new pathogen laboratory in the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
From 2005 to 2012, the foundation has channeled 2.72 million euros into the laboratory for studies such as the one on the pathology of viral respiratory infectious diseases.