May 31, 2010
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Medical and Health Services in China
Medical and Health Services in China
(December 2012Information Office of the State Council of The People's Republic of China
(2012年12月 中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室)
I. Basic Conditions
II. Reform of Medical and Healthcare Systems
III. Infectious Disease Prevention and Treatment, and Health Emergency Management
IV. Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Non-communicable Disorders
V. Protecting Women and Children's Right to Health
VI. Development of Traditional Chinese Medicine
VII. International Medical and Healthcare Cooperation
Good health is a prerequisite for promoting all-round development of the person. And it is a common pursuit of human societies to improve people's health and ensure their right to medical care. For China, a large developing country, medical and healthcare is of vital importance to its population of over 1.3 billion, and is a major issue concerning its people's well being.
China pays great attention to protecting and improving its people's health. As the Constitution stipulates, “The state develops medical and health services, promotes modern medicine and traditional Chinese medicine…, all for the protection of the people's health.” Based on this constitutional stipulation, China has put in place a complete system of laws and regulations concerning medical and health services.
Over the years, China has worked hard to develop its medical and health services with Chinese characteristics in accordance with the policy of “making rural areas the focus of our work, putting disease prevention first, supporting both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, relying on science, technology and education, and mobilizing the whole of society to join the efforts, improving the people's health and serving socialist modernization.” Thanks to unremitting efforts that have been made, medical and healthcare systems covering both urban and rural residents have taken shape, the capabilities of disease prevention and control have been enhanced, the coverage of medical insurance has expanded, continuous progress has been made in medical science and technology, and the people's health has been remarkably improved.
To put into place basic medical and healthcare systems covering both urban and rural residents, and ensure that every resident has access to safe, effective, convenient and affordable basic medical and health services, China has kept advancing the reform of its medical and healthcare system, and made important achievements in the current stage.
I. Basic Conditions
The people's health has been improved. Judging from important indicators that give expression to national health, the health of the Chinese people is now among the top in developing countries. In 2010, the life expectancy was 74.8 years - 72.4 years for males and 77.4 years for females; the maternal mortality rate went down from 51.3 per 100,000 in 2002 to 26.1 per 100,000 in 2011; the infant mortality rate and the mortality rate of children under the age of five have kept dropping, with the former going down from 29.2 per thousand in 2002 to 12.1 per thousand in 2011, and the latter, from 34.9 per thousand to 15.6 per thousand, attaining ahead of schedule the UN Millennium Development Goal in this regard.
Medical and Health Services in China-Figure 1: China's per-capita life expectancy (years), according to a white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council on Dec. 26, 2012. (Xinhua)
Medical and Health Services in China-Figure 2: China's maternal mortality rate (one in 100,000) from 1990 to 2011, according to a white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council on Dec. 26, 2012. (Xinhua)
Medical and Health Services in China-Figure 3: China's infant mortality rate from 1991 to 2011, according to a white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council on Dec. 26, 2012. (Xinhua)
Medical and Health Services in China-Figure 4: China's mortality rate of children under five years of age from 1991 to 2011, according to a white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council on Dec. 26, 2012. (Xinhua)
Medical and healthcare systems covering both urban and rural residents have been put in place. Of these systems, the first is the public health service system, which covers disease prevention and control, health education, maternity and child care, mental health, health emergency response, blood collection and supply, health supervision, family planning and some other specialized public health services, and a medical and healthcare system based on community-level healthcare networks that provides public health services. The second is the medical care system. In the rural areas, it refers to a three-level medical service network that comprises the county hospital, the township hospitals and village clinics, with the county hospital performing the leading role, and township hospitals and village clinics service at the base. And in the cities and towns, it refers to a new type of urban medical health service system that features division of responsibilities as well as cooperation among various types of hospitals at all levels and community healthcare centers. The third is the medical security system. This system comprises mainly the basic medical security, supported by many forms of supplementary medical insurance and commercial health insurance. The basic medical security system covers basic medical insurance for working urban residents, basic medical insurance for non-working urban residents, a new type of rural cooperative medical care and urban-rural medical aid, which cover, respectively, the employed urban population, unemployed urban population, rural population and people suffering from economic difficulties. And the fourth is the pharmaceutical supply system, which covers the production, circulation, price control, procurement, dispatching and use of pharmaceuticals. The recent work is focused on establishing a national system for basic drugs.
The health financing structure has been constantly improved. China's health expenditure comes from the government's general tax revenue, social medical insurance, commercial health insurance, residents' out-of-pocket spending, etc. In 2011, the total health expenditure in China reached 2,434.591 billion yuan, 1,806.95 yuan per capita. The total expenditure accounted for 5.1% of the country's GDP. In comparable prices, the health expenditure grew by an average annual rate of 11.32% from 1978 to 2011. Individual “out-of-pocket” spending declined from 57.7% in 2002 to 34.8% in 2011, showing that health financing is working better in the areas of risk protection and re-distribution. In 2011, the spending on hospitals and outpatient establishments was 1,808.94 billion yuan, and that on public health agencies, 204.067 billion yuan, comprising 71.74% and 8.09%, respectively, of the total health expenditure. Of the total spending on hospitals, those on urban hospitals, county hospitals, community health service centers and township health service centers stood at 64.13%, 21.28%, 5.17% and 9.3%, respectively.
Medical and Health Services in China-Figure 5: China's total health expenditure and its proportion of the GDP from 1978 to 2011, according to a white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council on Dec. 26, 2012. (Xinhua)
Medical and Health Services in China-Figure 6: China's health financing structure (%) from 2000 to 2011, according to a white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council on Dec. 26, 2012. (Xinhua)
Health resources have been developing in a sustained way. By the end of 2011, medical and healthcare institutions around the country totaled 954,000, an increase of 148,000 over 2003. Licensed doctors (assistants) reached 2,466,000, or 1.8 per thousand people, as compared with 1.5 per thousand people in 2002. Registered nurses totaled 2,244,000, or 1.7 per thousand people, as compared with one per thousand people in 2002. The number of hospital beds reached 5160,000, or 3.8 per thousand people, as compared with 2.5 per thou-sand people in 2002.
Marked improvement has been seen in the utilization of medical and health services. In 2011, medical institutions throughout the country hosted 6.27 billion outpatients, as compared with 2.15 billion in 2002; and admitted 150 million inpatients, as compared with 59.91 million in 2002. That year, Chinese residents went to the medical institutions for medical treatment 4.6 times on average; 11.3 of every 100 people were hospitalized; the utilization rate of hospital beds reached 88.5%; and the hospital stay of the inpatients averaged 10.3 days. These figures show that it has become increasingly convenient to see a doctor and more easily accessible to get medical services. In 2011, 83.3% of all households (80.8% in rural areas) could reach medical institutions within 15 minutes, as compared with 80.7% in 2002. Medical service quality management and control systems have been constantly improved. A system of blood donation without compensation has been established, so as to ensure blood supply and safety.
图1 中国人均期望寿命(略)
图2 中国孕产妇死亡率(略)
图3 中国婴儿死亡率(略)
图4 中国5岁以下儿童死亡率(略)
图5 中国卫生总费用和卫生总费用占国内生产总值比重(略)
图6 卫生总费用筹资构成(略)
II. Reform of Medical and Healthcare Systems
With years of effort, China has made remarkable achievements in the development of its healthcare undertakings, which, however, still fall far short of the public's demands for healthcare as well as the requirements of economic and social development. Especially when China turned from a planned economy to a market economy, the old medical care system has undergone great changes. So it became an issue of major importance for the Chinese government to provide better and more accessible medical and health services to the public. In the 1980s, the Chinese government initiated reform of the medical and healthcare systems, and speeded up the reform in 2003 after a success was won in the fight against the SARS. In March 2009, the Chinese government promulgated the “Opinions on Deepening Reform of the Medical and Health Care Systems,” setting off a new round of reform in this regard. The basic goal of this reform was to provide the whole nation with basic medical and health services as a public product, and ensure that everyone, regardless of location, nationality, age, gender, occupation and income, enjoys equal access to basic medical and health services. And the basic principles to be followed in the reform were to ensure basic services, improving such services at the grass-roots level and establishing the effective mechanisms.
Medical reform is a social program that covers a wide range and involves difficult tasks. And it is a hard and complicated task to deepen this reform in China, a developing country with a large population, low per-capita income and a wide gap between urban and rural areas. For over three years, the Chinese government has worked hard to strike a balance between improving medical and health services on one hand and economic and social development on the other, trying to find a solution to this worldwide problem. Thanks to the persistent efforts made, China has made positive progress in this new round of medical reform.

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