An estimated 5,500 doctors and nurses from Chinese cities will
be sent to the countryside this year where qualified medical
professionals are in short supply.
During a twelve-month stay at rural posts, they will be expected
to help treat rural patients, introduce new facilities, and train
local medical staff on diagnosis and operation techniques,
according to the Ministry of Health.
It is part of a three-year program, "Ten Thousand Medics Support
Rural Health Project,” launched in 2005 to improve health service
conditions in the countryside.
The program has reached out to 600 county hospitals and 1,300
rural clinics in impoverished farming regions.
Wang Jun, vice minister of finance, said the central government
has invested 500 million yuan in the program and a few local
governments have also given financial support for the program.
"It is an important program that will help narrow the gap
between medical services in urban and rural areas," said Health
Minister Gao Qiang on Tuesday at a televised workshop broadcast to
all levels of health departments.
So far, nearly 10,000 urban medical staff have assumed their
temporary rural posts and treated 2 million patients, in addition
to training about 560,000 rural doctors and nurses, Gao said.
The project will most likely be extended after a Tuesday letter
from Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi to the workshop, praising the
success of the project and urging the establishment of a lasting
mechanism to support the rural health sector.
"The project is an important measure to balance the development
of health services between urban and rural regions, and a lasting
mechanism should be set up to prolong this practice into the
future," Wu said in the letter.
Medical resources are scarce in rural China, compared to urban
areas. The country's social security system covers the majority of
urban residents, while most rural dwellers are not yet protected by
China's State Council adopted a five-year plan in March to
further develop the country's public health system, promising to
establish a basic medical and health care network covering all
urban and rural residents by the end of 2010.
A gynecologist in central Hubei Province, after returning home from her
rural posting, said on the day she arrived many farmers trekked
miles over mountains to see her for medical treatment or simply to
Cao Laiying said she had treated 2,668 patients in 40 villages
and participated in 268 operations in the past year.
"Sometimes you have to waste hours on bumpy mountain roads
before you get to see the patient. But at the end of my posting, I
was delighted that not a single woman died during pregnancy in the
county where I stayed," she said.
(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2007)