The State Council passed in principle on Wednesday a special program on the construction and development of the country's rural health care system, along with other measures aimed at easing the economic burden of the country's 900 million farmers.
According to an executive meeting of the State Council, the forming and implementation of the program will be taken as a primary governmental step in gradually improving the health service conditions in rural areas and the country's capabilities to that effect so that the health service for the farmers may be lifted gradually and effectively.
Chinese governments at all levels should put the development of the health service in rural areas atop their working agendas and view it as a major task in the construction of a new socialist countryside, said the meeting.
According to some experts, the construction of the new socialist countryside is an essential requirement for building a harmonious socialist society, achieving social fairness and justice and making the benefits of economic and social development available to all people.
Medical and health services in rural areas, the meeting said, can hardly meet the basic health needs of the farmers.
"It has become a problem facing the country's current economic and social development process," it said.
The meeting pointed out that the construction should be based on the real conditions of different rural areas and adheres to the principles of increasing investment and deepening related reforms.
The State Council pledged to, by 2010, establish a rural health service network with a basically complete infrastructure, a professional rural service force and an effectively operating management system which could ensure farmers enjoy primary health care services.
A major job the country should do during the implementation of the program, the meeting said, is to set up a mechanism to safeguard the steady investment in rural health projects, in which both central and local governments should be encouraged to participate in.
The reform of the rural health service management mechanism should be deepened, it said.
Resources of county-level health institutions should be further integrated and the layout of township clinics be readjusted accordingly, it said.
More effective ways of running rural health service may be explored and social forces and individuals encouraged to take part in the service, it said.
According to the meeting, the country will train, guide and encourage more health workers and college students to seek jobs in rural clinics and organize medical staff from urban hospitals to offer services or technological guidance for those in the countryside.
With all the measures, the meeting said, "Farmers can expect safe, effective, convenient and low-cost health service."
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2006)