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City Doctors to the Countryside
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China is considering fully implementing a pilot program that saw thousands of doctors from urban hospitals serve in 600 rural hospitals, said Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday.

Since 2005 the country's health authorities organized more than 10,000 doctors from 518 urban hospitals to work in 1,300 hospitals in remote areas. They treated more than two million patients and trained 560,000 local medical staff.

Sending experienced urban doctors to work temporarily in rural areas is just one of the things being considered to alleviate the serious shortage of medical services in the countryside.

Statistics from the MOH show that only 20 percent of China's medical resources are in rural areas which is home to about 70 percent of China's population.

Although a white paper, issued last December, said China's new rural cooperative medical care system had been extended to 1,399 counties by June 2005, covering 495 million rural dwellers, medical services are still not affordable and are inadequate for most rural residents.

The Beijing News ran a special report last Thursday featuring the heartbreaking story of a couple in their thirties who committed suicide because they saw no way out of their poverty and illness. The couple left behind their 78-year-old mother and 12-year-old son who, like his parents, suffers from hepatitis B.

Mao Qun'an also said on Tuesday the MOH is dealing with 866 suggestions and proposals submitted this March by NPC deputies and members of the national committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Many of the suggestions center on how to improve the new rural cooperative medical system and solve the issue of inadequate rural medical services, among others, said Mao.

(Xinhua News Agency April 11, 2007)

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