SCIO briefing on reform and development of health sector in 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020)

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Yu Xuejun, member of the Leading Party Members' Group and vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC).

Mao Qun'an, director of the Department of Planning and Information of the NHC.


Shou Xiaoli, deputy head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office.


Oct. 28, 2020

Shou Xiaoli:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to the press conference of the State Council Information Office (SCIO). During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), remarkable progress has been achieved in the reform and development of China's health sector. Today, we are pleased to be joined by Mr. Yu Xuejun, member of the Leading Party Members' Group and vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC), and Mr. Mao Qun'an, director of the Department of Planning and Information of the NHC. They will brief you on the reform and development of China's health sector during the 13th Five-Year Plan period and answer your questions. First of all, I would like to invite Mr. Yu to make his opening statement.

Yu Xuejun:

Thank you, Ms. Shou. Friends from the media, good afternoon.

The 13th Five-Year Plan period has played a decisive role in achieving the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and has been crucial for the development of public health sector in China. Committed to the philosophy of people-centered development, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core made the decision to carry out the Healthy China initiative and set out the principles for the CPC's public health work in the new era. During this period, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council convened the National Health and Fitness Conference and issued the "Healthy China 2030 Planning Outline; the National People's Congress adopted the Law on Basic Healthcare and Health Promotion and the Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). These efforts have ushered in a new stage for implementing the Healthy China initiative and promoting health for all. 

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the NHC has made every effort to implement the Healthy China initiative and shift the focus on health care from treating illnesses to improving people's health. From 2015 until the end of 2019, the average life expectancy in China rose from 76.3 years to 77.3 years, an increase of one year within this four-year period. The maternal death rate, infant mortality rate and under-five mortality rate declined from 20.1 per 100,000, 8.1‰ and 10.7‰ to 17.8 per 100,000, 5.6‰ and 7.8‰, respectively. The main health indicators for Chinese people are generally better than the average level in middle- and high-income countries. The proportion of personal spending in China's total expenditure on health fell to 28.4%. The implementation of the Healthy China initiative has got off to a good start.

First, the Healthy China initiative was launched and implemented with joint efforts for shared benefits. The State Council issued guidelines for the initiative's implementation and established a promotion committee. A total of 15 special campaigns were launched to deal with factors influencing health, to protect full-life-cycle health, and to prevent and control major diseases. People generally now have greater health awareness and take more action to improve their fitness. The patriotic sanitation campaign was further deepened and the China Healthy Cities and Towns Initiative was launched nationwide. The idea of personal responsibility in health matters was reinforced. Health awareness in both urban and rural areas rose to 19.17% in 2019 from 10.25% in 2015, and this figure is expected to have doubled during the 13th Five-Year Plan period by the end of this year.

Second, the medicine and health care system was enhanced while overcoming difficulties, and a general framework for systems with Chinese characteristics for providing basic health care was established. Coordinated medical services, medical insurance and pharmaceutical reforms continued. We moved forward across the board with the comprehensive reform of public hospitals and ended drug price markups in public hospitals. We launched trials for modern hospital management and promoted a performance assessment system which emphasizes quality and public benefits. We improved incentive mechanisms in terms of salaries and professional titles for medical staff working at the community level. We advanced the development of health care consortiums and the comprehensive reform of county-level public hospitals to make quality medical resources more accessible within communities. Rates of participation in the basic medical insurance systems stood at above 95%. The number of essential medicines increased from 520 to 685. We pressed ahead with centralized procurement and usage of medicines, and the prices of selected medicines in a pilot program dropped by more than 52% on average. This has helped solve the "last mile problem in making medicines at lower prices more available for clinical practice in hospitals. We improved the comprehensive regulatory system of the health sector and promoted the development of private hospitals and health-related industries in a well-regulated manner. All these efforts are aimed at meeting people's diverse health needs.

Third, continuous improvements were made in the health care service system, and services have become more accessible. We optimized the distribution of medical resources by starting the construction of national and regional medical centers and improving county-level health care service systems. A total of 84% of county-level hospitals qualified for designation as hospitals at or above the level of grade two. From 2015 to 2019, the number of general practitioners increased from 1.38 to 2.61 per 10,000 people; the number of beds in medical and healthcare institutions increased from 5.11 to 6.3 per 1,000 people; and the number of occupational physicians and physician assistants rose from 2.22 to 2.77 per 1,000 people. The number of registered nurses reached 3.18 per 1,000 people in 2019, compared with 2.37 per 1,000 people in 2015. Nearly 90% of households are now less than 15 minutes from a medical institution.

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