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China steps up reforms to improve health care for urban, rural residents
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08:09, April 07, 2009

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China will promote health-care reform in four areas -- public health services, medical treatment, medical insurance and drug supply -- for both urban and rural residents, according to a central government document released on Monday.

The reforms will make health-care more convenient and affordable and narrow the urban and rural gap, said the reform guidelines, jointly issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council.

The government will provide unified education on disease prevention and control, health-care for women and children, first aid, blood donation and family planning to both urban and rural residents, the guidelines said.

Efforts will be made to further improve the sanitation of living and working conditions for urban and rural residents and to deal with all forms of pollution, said the document, adding that the monitoring for food sanitation and sanitation at work places and schools will be strengthened.

Medical treatment will mainly depend on nonprofit medical organizations with state-run hospitals playing the major role and commercial hospitals developing in a complementary way, the guidelines said.

The medical service in rural areas will be greatly improved, with emphasis on county-level hospitals. Large hospitals in cities should provide long-term aid to county-level hospitals in terms of clinical services, personnel training, technological guidance and equipment sharing, according to the document.

The reform will set up a new urban medical system based on community health-care services, which can help lower the medical expenses and provide more convenient service.

Chinese traditional medicine will play a bigger role in disease prevention and control, and in dealing with emergency public health incidents and medical care services, the document said.

The guidelines said a comprehensive medical insurance system composed of the basic medical insurance for urban employers and employees, basic medical insurance for urban residents and a new rural cooperative medical care program will cover 90 percent of the population by 2011.

In 1998, China began to establish a medical care system, aimed to cover all employers and employees in urban areas. The country introduced a comprehensive medical insurance program, which covers all urban residents, including children and the unemployed, in July 2007. A total of 79 cities were selected to launch the pilot program.

The insurance system's principle will shift from major diseases to also covering minor diseases. Commercial medical care insurance will also be made available to meet individual needs, according to the guidelines.

The document said China will speed up the establishment of a drug supply system to ensure basic supply and safety. The system is based on a catalogue of necessary drugs that are produced and distributed under government control and supervision.

The basic medical insurance will cover all listed drugs to effectively provide access to a range of basic medicines and to reduce quality problems, and prevent manufacturers and business people from circumventing the government's price controls.

Source: Xinhua

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