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Fair Medical Services Needed

The reform of the healthcare system, the government should guarantee people's access to quality medical services, says an article in the South China News. An excerpt follows:

In a speech delivered at a recent summit meeting of China's hospitals and medical companies, Liu Xinming, a senior official with the Ministry of Health, railed against the current healthcare service system for its negligence of social fairness and inability to allocate medical resources efficiently.

The combined result is that many low-income people are prevented from access to healthcare services, which are beyond their means. He further specified that the quagmire of China's healthcare system must be addressed by a government-led, not market-led, reform program.

The ongoing market-oriented healthcare system reform has drawn much criticism for its development is off the right track. For example, as more and more hospitals are either privatized or commercialized, they seek big profits, leaving many people unable to pay healthcare bills. Some patients are impoverished by expensive hospital treatment.

In the past 10 years, the utilization ratio of China's health service resources has, reportedly, plunged sharply. To avoid the high expense of seeing a doctor, people sometimes buy self-prescribed medicine from drug stores to treat their diseases.

Healthcare services are not a privilege for people from the upper echelons of society and it should be equally provided to people of all levels this is the ultimate goal of our healthcare reforms.

To realize the goal, China's healthcare system should breathe more social fairness into the reform program. And the government is duty-bound to take effective measures to regulate skyrocketing medicine prices.

Healthcare services are there to improve public welfare and are a public product, so the system's reform should not be completely market-oriented.

(China Daily June 30, 2005)

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