China’s Health Minister Calls For Equitable Distribution Of Healthcare Resources

by Gopalan on Oct 1 2009 10:48 AM

Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu has said uneven distribution of healthcare resources could come in the way of its ambitious health care reform.

   He said the concentration of high-quality medical resources in major hospitals and large cities has hampered the government's efforts to promote a nationwide disease prevention strategy and failed to help update disease information in grassroots organizations.

The country needs to train more doctors and medical staff in grassroots organizations to address the challenges brought about by the shortage of medical professionals, he told a press conference.

    He also urged governments at all levels to attach more importance to investment in the medical sector.

China unveiled a three-year plan on health care reform in April, which it said would lay a solid foundation for equitable and universal access to essential health care for all in China by 2020.

    Under the 850 billion yuan (124.4 billion U.S. dollars) plan for 2009 to 2011, the government promised universal access to basic health insurance, the introduction of an essential drug system, improved primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and pilot reform of state-run hospitals.

    It is widely expected to be spent on subsidizing basic medical insurance programs, supporting grassroots-level health facilities and in underdeveloped western and rural regions, where medical resources are comparatively scarce compared with that of big cities, Xinhua reported.