New guidelines to provide greater comprehensive medical care nationwide and to deepen reform to cover urban and rural residents alike with universal healthcare were approved on Dec 21 by a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
Both guidelines are part of the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). Healthcare remains one of the government’s top concerns.
Premier Li has stressed repeatedly that “health is the root of people’s happiness”, and he has often reiterated the importance of medical reform.
According to the guideline, greater efforts will be made in major disease control and treatment. The government will encourage a greater focus on prevention of major chronic diseases as well as major contagious and mental illnesses.
The government will also boost medical competence in lower-tier cities and regions and encourage a wider allocation of medical resources. Additionally, approval procedures for new and urgently needed medicines will be simplified, and more incentives will be provided to families with two children.
The guideline on deepening medical reform, also approved on Dec 21, aims to fully establish a comprehensive system for public medical services, healthcare and medical insurance.
“In terms of medical reform, we need to concentrate on areas that people are most concerned about, and work harder in reducing high quality medical resources concentration in major cities, and make them more available to the public,” Premier Li said.
The guidelines target the most urgent needs of patients and will improve the country’s medical services if they can be properly carried out, said Chen Yuming, a professor of public health at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.
Additionally, integration of regional medical reimbursement is important so migrants can have more bills reimbursed when they are treated somewhere other than their hometowns, Chen said.
To bridge the disparity in services between major hospitals and those in less-developed areas, an incentive system should be introduced to encourage doctors to go to less-developed areas and stay there by raising their income and showing greater respect, Chen said.