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US$10.5B poured into China health care reform
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China has poured 71.6 billion yuan (US$10.53 billion) into health care since a reform plan started in April, said the State Council's Office of Health Care Reform.

The funding is part of an 850 billion-yuan reform package and it financed the construction of 986 county-level hospitals, 3,549 township hospitals, and 1,154 community health centers in the first half of the year, the office said at the weekend.

As of the end of June, approximately 337 million urban residents had been enrolled in medical insurance programs, a growth of 19 million from the end of last year. Meanwhile, the number of rural residents covered had totalled 830 million, up by 160 million.

One thousand qualified doctors were newly hired in township hospitals this year, and approximately 120,000 rural health personnel and 53,000 community health officers had received training so far this year, the office said.

About 15.8 billion yuan has been put into projects to provide basic medical services such as free hepatitis B vaccinations for those born between 1994 and 2001 who have not been inoculated yet. Another major task undertaken is setting up a health archives system for all of China's huge population.

A list of drugs, one of the most important components of a new essential drugs system for State-run hospitals China is putting into place, had been determined, said the office.

Up to 30 percent of state-owned community health institutes and county-level hospitals are expected to adopt the system later this year, it said.

The drugs listed would be provided to hospitals at low prices to reduce patients' medication costs.

The office did not say when or if the list would be published.

The three-year reform plan, started on April 7 this year, intends to cover more than 90 percent of the country's population under a basic medical insurance scheme by 2011.

The plan says the government will help build another 29,000 township hospitals and upgrade a further 5,000 this year. In urban areas, it is also to set up or upgrade 3,700 community health centers and 11,000 health stations.

(China Daily August 10, 2009)

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