Chinese experts stress need for basic health care

By Gillian Wong. Full article available here

Improving basic medical services through better training of staff is crucial to fixing and restoring public trust in China's ailing health system, senior experts said Sunday.

The high cost and poor availability of health services are among the biggest complaints of the Chinese public. China last year announced it would be pumping in 850 billion yuan ($124 billion) to reform the system over three years to provide basic medical coverage and insurance to all of the country's 1.3 billion people.

"The current problem is that many people think that community health facilities have increased, but the ability of doctors to treat illnesses has not strengthened," Gao Chunfang, director of the No. 150 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army, said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's legislature. "The level of distrust that patients feel toward community health facilities has grown."

That distrust has led to serious overcrowding at city-level public hospitals where the treatment is perceived as better. Gao said such hospitals should deploy doctors to assist community medical staff in treating patients and receive lower-level health workers for training at hospitals.

Health reform is under scrutiny at the ongoing meetings of the legislature and its advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, of which Gao and four other health experts who briefed reporters Sunday are members. Premier Wen Jiabao has made boosting social security for lower-income Chinese a priority, pledging to address concerns about education, affordable housing and jobs.

The government plans to build thousands of county and township hospitals and ensure that each of the country's nearly 700,000 villages has a clinic. It also seeks to expand state health insurance, control prices for essential medicines, and reduce unnecessary prescriptions.

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  1. Joao Carapinha - 2010/03/09

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