Central government officials and international experts yesterday
called for the participation of the private sector in the reform of
the country's messy healthcare system.
The system, dominated by government-run hospitals, is widely
criticized for its expensive service that many patients complain as
unaffordable and is often riddled with corruption.
More than 40 percent of patients' medical bills goes to drugs,
compared with 15 percent for EU citizens, according to World Health
Organization (WHO) figures.
To dismantle the monopoly of government-run hospitals, China
will "encourage investment from all sectors of society, including
private sector medical services," Wang Jun, vice-minister of
finance, told a Health Care Public-Private Partnership Forum in
Reform of government-run hospitals is also a key element in the
11th Five-Year Development Plan for the Health
Sector, which the State Council released yesterday.
The goal, according to Vice-Health Minister Chen Xiaohong, is to
set up a government-led market system of healthcare, in which both
government and private sector entities work together to provide
Figures for 2005 show that privately-run hospitals accounted for
only 10.8 percent of the nation's 8,703 major hospitals; and the
situation is unlikely to have changed significantly since then.
Also, there is little foreign investment in the system right
now, although Xinhua News Agency reported that last Sunday,
Minister of Health Gao Qiang said China is ready to allow
Chinese-foreign joint venture hospitals, in which overseas
investors can hold up to 70 percent of the equity.
To prepare for the comprehensive healthcare reform, the State
Council has created a committee comprising 14 government agencies
to coordinate its progress.
The committee has asked six organizations, including the WHO,
the State Council Development Research Center and Peking University
to put forward their proposals.
(China Daily March 22, 2007)