Gov't invests US$63 bln in healthcare system

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The central government will invest a total of 400 billion yuan (US$63 billion) by 2020 in healthcare system, China Daily reported Tuesday.

Health Minister Chen Zhu [file photo]

The funds will go to seven key projects to improve grassroots healthcare system, promote psychological disease prevention, build up a digital public health information network, enhance medical device innovation, develop traditional Chinese medicine and train general practitioners.

The Ministry of Health said that around 10 million people in China have contracted chronic diseases every year since 2002.

"Prevention and control of chronic diseases will be one of the seven top tasks of China’s medical care reform by 2020," said Health Minister Chen Zhu.

According to the Ministry of Health, 85 percent of deaths in China are caused by chronic diseases, with expenditure on the treatment of these accounting for 69 percent of China’s total healthcare costs last year.

Last week, China announced a decision to expand the coverage of the country's healthcare insurance system to include the treatment of critical illnesses, thus to prevent patients from being reduced to poverty by necessary healthcare costs.

Though around 1.3 billion people, or more than 95 percent of China's population, have been covered by the healthcare insurance system by the end of last year, medical expenditure burdens incurred by patients with severe medical conditions remain heavy.

China's average life expectancy will increase to 77 years by 2020 from 74.83 years in 2010, according to an official forecast released in August.

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