China is planning to change its radical market-oriented health reforms that
have attracted much criticism.
Ge Yanfeng, an official with the China Development Research Center (CDRC)
under the State Council, said on Saturday that the improper use of market
mechanisms has resulted in a gross injustice in the distribution of health
Speaking at the preparatory meeting of the China Development Forum in
Beijing, Ge said that under the reforms, lower-end health institutions, such as
rural hospitals and community hospitals in urban areas, are struggling for
Referring to the results of a study jointly carried out by the CDRC and the
World Health Organization (WHO), Ge said the trend of commercializing China's
health reforms is wrong and must be redressed.
Henk Bekedam, WHO representative in China, said inadequate input and
interference from the government is responsible for the inefficient use of
China's limited health resources.
He acknowledged that there are currently 11 government departments playing
different roles in health services, but there is no overall coordinator.
He suggested the State Council should set up a special organization to
coordinate all these departments and the government should also draw up a
long-term plan for the health sector and clearly define its roles.
Gao Weizhong, an official with the Ministry of Health, said if the tendency
of profit-seeking in health institutions is not stopped, generations of future
Chinese doctors could become victims.
The government must play a decisive role in future health reforms, if China
is to provide proper health services to its 1.3 billion people, he said.
According to Ge's estimate, the building of a new health system that will
make health services available and affordable to everyone will cost anywhere
between 19 billion to 25 billion U.S. dollars, or around 1.5 percent of China's
gross domestic product in 2005. This is an affordable plan for China.