The Chinese government is currently in the process of reforming its health sector, as it looks to relieve the intense pressure on the country’s large public hospitals.
One of the ways it’s doing this is through a community health service initiative, where it has established special centers that only handle minor ailments and diseases, and leave the larger institutions to deal with more serious conditions, said Du Fengdong, head of Wangjing community health service.
“I think community health centers have developed rapidly over the past 10 years. The number of doctors in our health center went from 50 to about 200. Our number of consultations has gone from 100,000 to about 500,000 per year. Therefore, I feel we are in a good situation.”
Although the standards of community health service centers are improving, many still prefer bigger hospitals. However, Dr. Du told CGTN that there really isn’t a major difference between them.
“From an outpatient’s perspective, there isn’t much difference. The only difference is the big hospitals have a greater capacity to cure rare illnesses and are better suited to those who require surgery.”
One senior citizen told CGTN she uses her local health center two or three times a month. She said she doesn’t only go when she’s sick — just being there helps her feel good about her health and well-being.
“Community health centers are more convenient for us. It’s very inconvenient to go to the bigger hospitals. In addition, when we get minor illnesses, going to community health centers can help us prevent cross infection.”
However, according to a survey from China Youth Daily, about two-thirds of respondents said they do not trust community health service centers. A doctor at the Wangjing health center, Liu Wenting, explained that people don’t really understand their benefits yet.
“Society is not giving enough exposure to community health centers. Because of that, most people are still choosing to go to big hospitals first, because they don’t know about the functions of community health centers.”
According to research released by the National Bureau of Statistics, there were over 35,000 community health centers in 2016. Still, there is a huge potential market for these centers going forward.