"Using a same bottle of loxacin injection, I have to pay 9.3
yuan in the hospital, but only 1.05 yuan here. Who will go to
hospital for minor diseases then?" 65-year-old Liu Xianglian said
while receiving a medical checkup at a community health service
"Thanks to zero-profit drug purchasing by the government, people
are paying less for medical service at community health service
centers," said Ma Rulin, deputy director of Yinchuan Health
Department, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwest China.
In 2005, the average cost of a prescription at a community health
service center paid by low-income people in Yinchuan was 14.5 yuan
(US$1.8), while in 2003, the cost was 112 yuan (US$13.7), according
Apart from low cost to see a doctor, Shanghai resident Cao Miaoxing
has been enjoying the "home sickbed" which was set-up by the health
service center in his community. Every week, Doctor Zeng Weihua
visits him for physical examinations and diet suggestions.
"Not only me, the doctor also guides my wife in eating and taking
medicine, as she has had frequent heart attacks recently," said
Cao, who has suffered from several cerebral hemorrhages.
"Community health service provides people a more convenient,
quicker medical service and eases pressure of large hospitals,"
said Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, "that's why
it will be improved as a priority in Chinese medical
It is unreasonable to see a doctor in large hospitals for minor
Improving community health service is a wise shift of the
government to change the unusual phenomenon, said He Wenjie, deputy
to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature, who
is in Beijing attending the annual session.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, China
currently has more than 3,400 community health service centers
nationwide. Over 95 percent of cities have community health
Most community health service centers are short of funds and
qualified health staff, resulting in poor confidence and
reliability from the public. The country has less than 10,000
in-service community doctors, far less than the 100,000 it really
"Only by improving community health service can we divert patients
cramming in large hospitals and lower their medical cost," said
Health Minister Gao Qiang.
At the ongoing session of NPC, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in
the government work report that China will exert efforts in
developing community health service.
A new community-based urban medical service system is set to be
established in the next five years by re-allocating resources,
raising funds and enhancing the training of staff, according to the
This year, the Ministry of Health will take measures to encourage
community health service providers to shoulder the "first
treatment" of patients, so that minor diseases will be stopped at
the community level but major ones will be introduced to hospitals,
Chronic diseases diagnosed by hospitals and recovery periods after
operations will be shifted to community health centers, he
Qualified community centers will be enrolled into the urban
medicare insurance lists, so that patients can get more
reimbursement for their treatment, according to the government
Some policies have been carried out which raise the proportion of
the reimbursement as a way to encourage people to go to community
health service centers, Vice Premier Wu Yi told the media.
"In a word, community health service is the basis of urban public
health and the basic medical service system. We will try to make a
breakthrough from community health in the reform of providing the
people easier and cheaper access to medical service," said Mao.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2006)