Chinese Vice Premier calls for efforts to develop grassroots-level medical services

08:38, June 01, 2011      

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Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for efforts to develop medical services in rural areas and expand health insurance coverage.

Efforts should be made to reform county-level hospitals and ensure that low-income patients benefit from the country's health care reforms, Li told health officials at a meeting on health care reform, over which he presided.

In an effort to make the country's medical service "equitable" and "convenient," Li urged health authorities to train more doctors, expand the coverage of the country's essential medicine system and ensure that outpatient services are accessible in villages.

Public hospitals are encouraged to separate medical treatment services and medicine sales, while nongovernmental sectors are encouraged to run their own hospitals, according to Li.

As of March this year, 1.27 billion Chinese, or about 90 percent of the total population, are covered by some sort of medical insurance, according to figures released by the health reform office under the State Council, China's cabinet. ' Meanwhile, 82 percent of government-funded grassroots health clinics, including urban community health centers and rural clinics, are covered by the country's essential medicine system.

In April 2009, China kicked off health reforms aimed at correcting long-standing problems facing China's health system and easing public grievances.

The essential medicine system and the reform of publicly funded hospitals are the two main pillars of China's health reforms.

The essential medicine system requires doctors to prescribe only essential medicines and to sell those medicines at wholesale prices, rather than with the previous 15 percent mark-up.

Source: Xinhua
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