It may sound strange that a government run in the name of the people and which swears by a classless society to set targets for universal healthcare.
But nothing could be strange in a land like the People's Republic of China. The so-called communist rulers of the country are saying that through far-reaching reforms it would ensure that none goes without medical attention.
AdvertisementChinese Health Minister Chen Zhu on Friday vowed to establish a medical service system which covered all urban and rural Chinese by 2010.
The Ministry of Health will deepen the ongoing medical reform to attain the objective, the minister said, significantly, at a Sino-American medical forum opened in Shanghai - the showpiece city of the free market system so avidly embraced by the communists lately.
The reform of China's public health sector is in a crucial period. It covers a wide range of subjects including medical insurance, drug manufacturing and distributing and supervision and legislation of medical management, says the official Xinhua news agency.
Increasing public criticism on high medical expense burden and endless hospital sandals have compelled the health ministry to launch the reform which involved 16 ministries and commissions to brainstorm the reform.
"Public medical service should not be a burden to the society, but an important aspect of sustainable social development," the minister said.
Eight think tanks including World Health Organization, Mckinsey,World Bank, Development Research Center of the State Council and four Chinese universities have submitted their proposals on the reform to the ministry.
"The final plan of the reform will be a mixture of the proposals," he said.
China started a medical service reform in 1992 to abolish a system in which governments cover more than 90 percent of Chinese medical expenses.
Medical insurance has been introduced and promoted in urban areas in Guangdong and some other provinces since 1992 and cooperative medical care has been experimented in some rural counties to find a way to provide all Chinese with affordable medical service.
Interestingly the same Health Ministry admitted that public health emergencies claimed 393 lives on the Chinese mainland between January and September this year with 2,002 incidents recorded and 76,000 people involved.
Though the number of major incidents only accounted for 12.4 percent of the total, the 249 cases of major public health emergencies claimed 310 lives, said the ministry in a report.
The main types of public health emergencies reported in the first nine months were infectious diseases, food poisoning, vocational poisoning and environment accidents.
No public health emergencies were recorded in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the ministry said.
The latest in a string of food poisoning incidents left a 30-year-old man dead and 12 people sick after they ate breakfast contaminated with rat poison at a government unit's dining hall in central China's Hubei Province.
According to the ministry, public health emergencies refer to major epidemics, diseases of unknown origin, major food or occupational poisoning cases, and other incidents, which may seriously endanger public health, including SARS and bird flu.