China, U.S. open disease study center in Shanghai

American and Chinese health officials have opened en epidemiology center in Shanghai this week that will be used to train professionals in detecting and preventing epidemic diseases.

Centers for Disease Control deputy director Stephen B. Thacker told the Associated Press that the CDC will be helping with training and technical assistance driven by major public health issues.

"We need more field epidemiologists in China and around the world and we need them better trained," Thacker told The Associated Press.

Outbreaks of SARS, bird flu and H1N1 have driven home the need to control these diseases and viruses, particularly in areas that lack infrastructure and sanitation needed to cope with them, Thacker added.

Thacker also said that more experts are needed in the broad areas of public health, not just communicable diseases.

“We need to look at what's killing people, what's putting people in hospitals," Thacker told the Associated Press. "Here in Shanghai, the leading causes of death are not infections, they're heart disease, stroke, injuries, cancer and so on."

Wang Longxing, director of the Shanghai city Health Bureau, said prevention is the key and that the Chinese government is spending more on prevention.

“We want to avoid the situation where people will only be willing to spend money to go to see the doctor when they are already sick,” Wang told the Associated Press.