China's medical services are in dire need of reform, the
country's top political advisers and national lawmakers claimed on
National adviser Sun Jiye, speaking at the ongoing CPPCC National
Committee meeting, urged the government to implement sweeping
changes as the price of medicine and medical services creep ever
higher. "The current exorbitant medicine and medical service costs
are beyond the reach of the people," he said.
"While most commodity prices declined continuously since we moved
to a market economy, the prices of medicine and medical service are
going the other way", said Sun. "They have kept on rising and
rising, which has kept many patients away from seeing
Per capita clinical payments and hospitalization expense increased
annually by 13 percent and 11 percent respectively in the past
eight years, according to statistics released by the Ministry of
Experts say the dramatically rising medical costs have taken a
heavy toll on the public, whose complaints are rising
The difficulty in seeing doctors and setting up a comprehensive
health care system is among the top 10 most concerned issues the
public have urged ongoing NPC and CPPCC National Committee to
address, according to an online survey carried out by the
People's Daily's web edition www.people.com.cn.
"Nearly 48.9 percent of Chinese people cannot afford to see doctors
when they fall ill and 29.6 percent are not hospitalized whenever
they should be," Gao Qiang, vice-health minister, said earlier this
year, quoting the result of the third survey about country's
The problem is more acute in rural areas, where only 20 percent of
the country's medical resources are available amid the some 70
percent of the country's population.
"The difficulty in seeking medical help is one of farmer's three
worries. The other two being natural disaster and no one to take
care them when in old aged", said Mao Fengmei, an NPC deputy and a
farmer from Northeast China's Liaoning
China, with 22 percent of world's population, only boasts about 2
percent of world's total medical resources.
"Inadequate government input at public hospitals is one of the
reasons leading to the medical bottleneck," Sun said, who listed
the "laggard health care system reform" and the disorderly market
"The government should boost its financial help in public
healthcare systems", Sun said. His view was shared by Wang Ying, an
NPC deputy from Southwest China's Yunnan
"As the healthcare is a government-initiated public welfare
undertaking, the government should shoulder its responsibility,"
said Wang, a doctor.
The government appears to be taking heed of its critics.
Jiabao has vowed to improve the medical system to make services
more accessible and affordable for the public. Rural areas will
receive special attention this year, Wen pledged.
Such promises were welcomed by Mao, the farmer-turned
"The resolve shown by this administration to address this issue is
encouraging," she said.
She added that improving the health care system in countryside is
an urgent matter.
(China Daily March 10, 2005)