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China issues five-year plan on public healthcare

Updated: Jan 10,2017 8:03 PM

A five-year plan on public healthcare (2016-2020) was released by the State Council on Jan 10, setting the goal of raising the average life expectancy by one year in 2020 than that in 2015.

According to the plan, although China has made many achievements in the past five years, the country still faces many challenges, including an aging population, rising threat of chronic diseases and threat of environmental contamination and food safety.

The plan vows to handle critical diseases more effectively, including chronic diseases, epidemics, mental diseases, parasitic diseases, endemics and occupational diseases. The premature death rate caused by major diseases — such as cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and cardia-cerebrovascular diseases — is expected to fall by 10 percent compared with 2015.

The issue of hygiene is underlined, especially in rural areas. The plan urged the enhancement of sewage treatment in rural regions and the construction of more toilets. “Sanitary toilets should cover more than 85 percent of villages,” said the document.

Programs to promote health education, nutrition and tobacco control should be launched. The smoking rate among people over 15 years old is expected to be reduced to less than 25 percent.

More public sports facilities should be built and open to everyone for little to no cost. The sports area per capita is expected to reach 1.8 square meters.

The health of women, especially those who are pregnant, infants and teenagers, should be better protected, according to the plan. Death rates of pregnant women and infants are expected to be lower than 18 per 100 thousand and 7.5 per thousand, respectively, by 2020.

In addition, the health of elders as well as poor and disabled people is also highlighted. Government subsidies should be provided to eligible poor and disabled residents on their basic healthcare insurance.

In terms of family planning, the two-child policy will continue. The plan hopes to protect girls better by offering government subsidies to eligible girls’ families and cracking down on abortion based on gender choice.

The government should give more support to grassroots clinics and general practitioners. Patients are encouraged to see a doctor in grassroots clinics first, in order to ease the pressure of crowded big hospitals.

Traditional Chinese medicine should be supported, as well as research on cutting-edge medical science, especially the treatment of critical diseases and the development of new medicines.

Government supervision on healthcare services should be enhanced, especially involving food and medicines. Over 300 national food safety standards will be put in place as well as the modification of several medicine standards.

The plan also pledges to promote health industries, encouraging private capital and social organizations to provide healthcare services and develop new medicines and medical facilities. Commercial insurance is also encouraged by the plan.