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Central Gov't Invests in Medical Equipment

More than 400 Chinese and overseas businesses gathered in Beijing Monday to compete for a share of a central government procurement order for medical equipment worth more than 2 billion yuan (US$240 million).

Nine teams organized by the Ministry of Health will evaluate the equipment, said Health Vice Minister Huang Jiefu at the opening ceremony of the 13th China International Medical Equipment and Facilities Exposition and Symposia at the Beijing Exhibition Hall.

The Ministry of Health announced earlier that the central government would spend 1.5 billion yuan (US$181 million) this year on ambulances, in-car equipment and devices for testing and treating infectious diseases.

Another 573 million yuan (US$70 million) will be used to buy protective clothing for medical personnel, emergency rescue equipment, laboratory devices for provincial and municipal disease control centers, special-purpose vehicles with and testing machines for AIDS and schistosomiasis (snail fever).

"With the continuous growth of the economy and the public's increased attention to healthcare, China's potential healthcare market is huge and fast-growing," said Aris Bruin, chief operating officer of Philips Medical Systems in China. "In the next three years, the annual growth rate of China's healthcare market is expected to exceed 10 per cent."

The country has already become the third-largest healthcare market in the world, behind the United States and Japan.

In 2003, the Ministry of Health spent about 800 million yuan (US$96.4 million) purchasing medical equipment.

Items to be acquired this year are to include computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging, PET-CT and X-ray machines, as well as clinical devices and ambulances.

(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2004)

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