China to invest more in grassroots health care reform

08:30, March 11, 2011      

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A press conference concerning medical and health care system reform was held in Beijing on the afternoon of March 9, and central government officials said China's central budget is going to invest more money in grassroots-level reform in these areas in the next few years.

Chen Zhu, the Health Minister of China, said the ministry has made the construction of county-level hospitals the priority project in the reform of rural medical and health care systems and public hospitals in this year's work.

"About 80 percent of rural residents' diseases could be treated well in county-level hospitals currently," Chen said. "If the number could be increased to 90 percent, including some difficult and complicated diseases, then the effects of the new rural cooperative medical care system would be much better."

Sun Zhigang, the vice director of National Development and Reform Mission of China and the director of State Council Medical System Reform Office, said on yesterday that the central government is concerned about the construction of county-town-village medical network very much. It has funded the building of nearly 2,000 county-level hospitals and about 20,000 grassroots-level medical institutions in the last two years.

Apart from building more grassroots-level hospitals, Sun said they also paid great attention to building doctor teams. One of their goals is placing qualified general practitioners in every grassroots-level medical institutions in the next two years.

As of now, 60 percent of grassroots-level hospitals and institutions have implemented the basic medicine system, which cuts the medicine prices down to 70 percent on average, Sun revealed.

Regarding the financial problems grassroots government might encounter during the medical and health care system reform, Wang Jun, the vice Finance Minister, said central, provincial and municipal budgets would all support grassroots government on the reform as best as they can.

Wang said the Finance Ministry has done lots of work to support the reform and relieve the financial squeeze of grassroots level governments.

First, they have increased investment in hardware, including the construction of basic infrastructure, and the central budget has invested more than 53 billion yuan in equipping facilities.

Second, China's central government has carried out about 10 policies to cultivate talent and build qualified doctor teams.

Third, rural residents' paying ability is getting stronger since more investment has been put into public health and medical insurance, those grassroots-level institutions would get more compensation through their good service, and thus, they relieve the county-level budget to a certain extent.

Fourth, the ministry also carried out some policies to increase the benefit level of grassroots medical staff. Apart from requiring that the benefit level of medical staff should be equal to the average income level of people working for local public institutions, central budget also allocates some money as subsidies for medical staff every year.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online

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