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Li Bin: Deepening the Reform of the Medical and Health Care System


Updated: 2014-08-24

As a major step in guaranteeing and improving the livelihood of the general public, the effort to deepen the reform of the medical and health care system concerns the health and well-being of the general public and the future of the Chinese nation. In the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, efforts were made to make a comprehensive plan to further deepen the reform of the medical and health care system on the basis of the overall situation of socioeconomic development. We must have a correct understanding of the nuances and requirements of such a comprehensive plan. We must study it earnestly, understand it profoundly, and implement the plan in a way that will ensure the Central Committee’s goals can be achieved.

I. Understanding of the Importance and Urgency of the Effort to Deepen Medical and Health-Care Reform

Reform is pushes progress forward in the field of medical and health care. In 2009, the Central Committee of the CPC announced an ambitious plan to deepen health care reform. After four years of arduous efforts, China has made major strides in this reform and seeking medical care is easier and less expensive. Firstly, the universal basic medical insurance system has taken shape. Over 1.3 billion people have been covered by the three basic medical insurance systems (the basic medical insurance system for urban employees, the basic health insurance system for urban residents and the new rural cooperative medical system), thus the biggest network of basic medical insurance in the world. Second, the national essential drug system was fully established, the comprehensive reform of the medical and health care institutions at the community level was deepened, and a new system meant to guarantee public welfare, arouse enthusiasm, and secure sustainability has been put in place. Thirdly, the medical and health care provision system at the community level has been markedly strengthened. The central government has invested more than RMB 70 billion to support the 2,400 county-level hospitals and 40,000 medical and health care institutions at the community level. Increasing medical staff capacity for general practitioners has been initiated, and the “hardware and software” of the medical and health care services at the community level in both urban and rural areas have been markedly improved. Fourthly, basic public health care has been equalized, and more services have become available. The quality of the services has been steadily improved, thus benefiting the general public. Fifthly, the piloting reform of public hospitals has been actively advanced.

At the same time, we must see sober-mindedly that the achievements we have made in the health care reform are still preliminary and periodical ones, and there is still a gap between what we have achieved and the expectations of the general public. The total medical and health care resources are still inadequate and the problem of “feeding hospitals by selling drugs” has not been fundamentally solved. There is still a long way to go before we can realize the long-term objectives of the health care reform. What’s more, the current health care reform has entered the deep-water area, and there will be more deep-rooted contradictions and problems that are difficult to deal with. The general public has increasingly higher expectations of the health care reform, which is exerting an extensive impact on society’s economic development. In the face of the new situation and new requirements, we must be fully aware of the great significance of the effort to deepen health care reform from both general and specific perspectives.

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Link: China's Central Government / World Health Organization / United Nations Population Fund / UNICEF in China

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