Wednesday, April 08, 2009

China plans major investment in medical care

China is about to make a major investment in government supplied medical care. Over the past 30 years medical services in the outlying countryside have deteriorated. China will invest 850 billion yuan to supply 700,000 villages with medical clinics.

From the Guardian, writer Jonathan Watts fills us in on the Communist countries plans.

In a major overhaul, the government will also extend basic medical coverage and insurance to 90% of China's 1.3 billion people, almost a third of whom currently have to meet treatment costs entirely out of their own pockets.

Sickness is the major cause of poverty in China and frustration at expensive medical treatment has sparked protests and violence against hospital staff.

To address this dissatisfaction, the health ministry will train 1.4 million doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners to staff village clinics, in addition to the half a million healthcare workers in towns and cities.

"By 2011, we will remarkably improve the accessibility of basic medical care and healthcare services and alleviate the burden on the general public for medical costs," the vice-health minister, Zhang Mao, said.

Under plans unveiled this week, the government will also build 2,000 county hospitals and build or renovate 3,700 community clinics and 11,000 health service centres in urban areas within three years.

The central government will pay 40% of the costs, leaving the remainder to be covered by local authorities. Prices of essential medicines will be capped and the medical insurance scheme will be extended to nine in 10 people by 2011.

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