All Chinese people in urban and rural areas will enjoy basic medical care and health services by year 2020, Vice Minister of Health Gao Qiang said Wednesday at the ongoing 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
However, he noted that it is not easy to achieve the target, as there will be 1.5 billion people at that time.
China has set up the world's largest network of medical services and disease prevention, and the most advanced mechanism in reporting epidemic situation, Gao said. "At present a disease outbreak, wherever it is, can be reported to the Ministry of Health in a single day," he said.
China started the medical service reform in the early 1990s to abolish the system in which governments and state-run enterprises covered most medical expenses of urban Chinese. However, rural people found it rather hard to get access to medical care.
Now medical insurance has been introduced and promoted in urban areas, and cooperative medical care has been experimented in the countryside. In this sense, all Chinese will be able to enjoy affordable medical service.
China's rural cooperative medical insurance system, initiated in 2003 to offer farmers basic health care, has covered 720 million rural residents, or 82.8 percent of the country's rural population, by the end of June this year.
Life expectancy of Chinese people reached 73 years in 2006, doubling that in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded.
(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2007)