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China's health reform in crucial stage

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CNTV, March 15, 2013
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China's ongoing medical reform has entered a crucial stage. A press conference on China's medical and healthcare system reforms has been held on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress. Sun Zhigang, Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission, says China has laid the groundwork and is turning its focus toward achieving universal medical insurance.

It's easier than ever before for Chinese people to walk into a hospital. Over the past three years, the central government has invested over 450 billion yuan, or roughly 72 billion US dollars, in healthcare services. The three-year plan included establishing a basic health insurance system, implementing an prescription drug supply system and improving grass-roots medical services.

"The basic level of medical services for citizens has been improving. China's government has invested 60 billion yuan to the construction of grassroots-level medical and health care infrastructure. That move is unprecedented in history. Both the personnel and equipment in the medical care system have made great progress."

Sun Zhigang also says China's government has made great gains in cultivating qualified general practitioners in grassroots-level medical facilities over the past years.

China's latest medical reform plan will continue to emphasize private investment in the healthcare industry.

But this progress has not come without risks.

Hu Xiaoyi, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, says efforts need to be made to strengthen supervision over the health insurance industry.

" First, it is a question of whether embezzlement exists and whether these insurance fund companies and managers are reliable. Secondly, will some medical institutions or organizations exploit the funds. Thirdly, will some beneficiaries or patients take advantage of the funds' expanding scale."

China has achieved near universal healthcare, with about 95 percent of the population covered under various forms of health insurance.

Still, people are finding it hard to get convenient and timely medical treatment in hospitals.

"Healthcare reform is a tough task for China, and the country will continue to address it, with more intensity. The central government has promised more funding in the 12th Five-year Plan period. The focus is on universal medical insurance, a basic medicine system, and public hospital reforms."


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