After prolonging people’s lives, and slashing infant and maternal mortality rates, China is poised to become healthier as it builds a moderately prosperous society across the board.
The goal was crystallized as the Healthy China strategy in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). Enlisting the backing of the central leadership, the goal of Healthy China looks achievable.
Nothing is more telling of the country’s progress in the health sector than the improvement in three main public health indicators.
Average life expectancy in China surged from 35 during the early years of the People’s Republic of China, founded in 1949, to over 76 in 2015.
The infant mortality rate dropped from 20 percent immediately after PRC was founded to 0.81 percent last year, while the maternal mortality rate dropped from 1,500 of every 100,000 in 1949 to about 20 of every 100,000 in 2015, according to statistics released by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Li Bin, head of the commission, attributed the success to government commitment and leadership in protecting and promoting the health of the general public.
President Xi Jinping under-scored the significance of Healthy China on different occasions in recent years, saying that there would be no all-around well-being without health for all the people, and urging food-producing enterprises to produce high quality products to ensure safety.
While meeting World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan in July, Xi said enabling all Chinese people to access quality healthcare services is a significant part of China’s Two Centennial Goals－to build an all-around moderately prosperous society by 2020 and to build a modern socialist country by the middle of the 21st century.
The country continues to be held back by structural problems in its medical system, such as lack of affordability and other issues that put stress on its public hospitals. It launched a new round of medical reforms in 2009.
In April 2015, the 11th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform endorsed new guidelines on public hospital reform.
In December 2015, the 19th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform adopted a document to merge China’s two medical insurance schemes for urban and rural residents in a bid to guarantee equal access to basic healthcare.