China is promising greater efforts to provide comprehensive medical care across the country through further medical reforms that will benefit both urban and rural residents.
The State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Dec 21 approved two guidelines, one on improving health care and medical services during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) and another on medical reform in the coming five years.
Health and medical care remain a top priority of the government, as Premier Li pointed out in this year’s government work report that “health is at the root of people’s happiness”. He has stressed on many occasions on the importance of medical reform.
“We should continue to provide a sustainable healthcare system that matches our national conditions, so that all people can enjoy better medical services at lower cost,” Premier Li said.
China has recorded impressive achievements in improving medical and health care in the past five years. Figures from the National Health and Family Planning Commission show that in 2015, average life expectancy in China reached 76.34. Infant mortality rate has decreased to 8.1 per 1,000, from the previous 13.1 per 1,000, beating most high and middle income countries.
The new guideline on improving medical service and health care says more efforts will be made in improving health care in the following aspects.
First, greater efforts will be made in major disease control and treatment. The government will make more efforts to prevent major chronic diseases and illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, strokes, as well as major contagious diseases and mental diseases. The government will encourage more nurse training, especially in caring for the elderly, children and pay more attention to tackling mental illness.
Second, medical competence at the grass-roots level is to be enhanced with more resources delivered from top to lower-tier institutions. It also calls for improving treatment of the elderly, people with disabilities and poverty-stricken families, in particular.
Third, approval procedures for new and urgently needed medicine will be simplified. Internet Plus health care will be more widely applied across the country to make medical services immediately accessible.
More incentives will be provided to the needs of families with two children. The guideline also emphasized developing the health industry while encouraging more social investment in the sector.
Premier Li points out in particular that the guidelines are not actual plans.
“It is important to encourage related departments and governments at all levels to take the initiative in implementation,” he said, emphasizing that some obligatory targets in the guideline should be laid out based on evaluation.
Guidelines in expanding China’s medical reform in the coming five years were also proved on Dec 21. A set of measures will be implemented. Medical consultation through family doctors will be encouraged, and the government will test the ongoing hierarchical medical system in 85 percent of regions around China. The guideline also encourages a wider range of medical resources sharing. The government will put strict price controls on medical equipment and medicines, while encouraging medical services and consultations. The guideline sets the goal that by 2017, reimbursement of hospitalization fees across different regions and provinces will become reality.
More improvements will be made in the country’s medicine supply system, and the government will ensure the supply of low-price medicine, children’s medicine, as well as some urgently needed medicine.
“In terms of medical reform, we need to concentrate on areas where people are most concerned, and work harder in reducing the concentration of high-quality medical resources in major cities, and make them more available to the wider public,” Premier Li said.
“The administrative fragmentation of the system needs to be broken to better serve public needs for medical service and cost reimbursement,” Premier Li stressed.