President Hu Jintao said yesterday that a comprehensive
healthcare network and an innovative system were needed to build a
relatively well-off and harmonious society.
China should expedite the development of medical services in
rural areas, promote community-based clinics and medical and
healthcare reforms, Hu said at a panel discussion during the annual
session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political
Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that opened on Saturday.
The medical and insurance system should be improved further to
guarantee timely treatment and safe drugs to the common people at
reasonable prices, said Hu, who is also general secretary of the
Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
Hu called for persistent efforts to build an innovative
mechanism based on science and technology.
Minister of Health Gao Qiang said it was China's ultimate goal to
establish a multi-format, multi-level healthcare system that
guaranteed every citizen, both in the rural and urban areas, basic
medical services, even though it would take some time.
A draft of the new medical care reform system will be ready this
year, Gao said. The Ministry of Health and 10 other ministries and
commissions are still studying the overall situation.
"There is huge gap between the amount of medical insurance fees
paid by rural and urban citizens, which has to be narrowed in time
before such a system for all is in place," Gao said.
For example, the per capita medical insurance fee is 1,100 yuan
(US$137) in the urban areas, while it's a mere 50 yuan (US$5.1) for
those who have become part of the rural cooperative healthcare
system. "The gap will finally be narrowed but it needs a long
time," he said.
A State Council Development and Research Center report last year
said the existing healthcare system was "basically not
"Medical service fairness is declining and medical fees are too
high for most people to afford," it said. "The rural medical
insurance system has obvious flaws. Only the relatively rich in the
countryside have joined it, with most children, adolescents,
unemployed and migrant workers being excluded."
(China Daily March 5, 2007)