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Installment basis applied in medication
(Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2005-07-18 14:45

On June 29, Guilin 181 Hospital reached an agreement with Yang Kang, a patient who could not afford further treatment at that time.

Under this agreement, the hospital agreed to provide medical treatment to Yang and shoulder the expenses which the patient would repay on an installment basis after he was cured of the disease (from the July 1 edition of the Nanguo Morning Post, a newspaper in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region).

The Guilin City Bureau of Health says that such agreement represents a new move in attempting to solve patients' financial difficulties, and the hospital has set an example which all other hospitals in Guilin can follow.

The doctors' duty is to help patients who are in need regardless of their conditions, social position, colour, creed, politics or ability, to remain healthy and prevent, alleviate or cure disease as far as they can.

The medical profession is a noble and respectable profession and it has done and is doing great service to humanity. That is why in China medical workers are honoured by the public with the title "Angels in White."

In recent years, as medical and health care has become more commercialized, medical services have become more expensive, sometimes even too expensive for ordinary patients to afford.

In some cases, needy patients are turned away from hospitals simply because they have no money or no insurance to cover the treatment, resulting in appalling human tragedies.

These tragedies have occurred repeatedly, generating sensational headlines in the popular press and making them the subject of much public discussion and controversy.

Many people condemn the medical institutions as well as doctors for their lack of ethics, for being bent on nothing but profit and totally devoid of all moral principles in their behaviour.

Others argue the opposite, stating that being profit-making organizations, hospitals need to make money so they can pay their employees.

For this reason it would not be fair to ask doctors and nurses to perform their sacred duty without regard for their personal interests.

As the discussion goes on, people are beginning to raise a question — a key question for the reform of the entire Chinese health care system: Should medical services become fully market-oriented?

Medical services are a form of consumption. The hospital or clinic is a provider of health care and the patients are consumers who have to pay for services provided. However, patients are not ordinary consumers.

The medical service deals with people not when they are healthy, but when they are sick and dying.

Therefore the medical profession is not an ordinary one, but a profession dedicated to rendering service to humanity, a profession of conscience and responsibility to patients.

Whether medical services should be marketized or not, one thing must be borne in mind: the right to life is a core right without which all other rights are meaningless, it is a fundamental right linked to the right to health.

Illness is a natural part of life, but it is undoubtedly a tragedy when a minor illness, left untreated because of inability to pay for medical care, develops into something more serious or fatal.

We have to admit that for now it is still difficult to provide everyone with medical coverage. Nevertheless, there is a lot the government and society can do to help economically disadvantaged people who need health care.

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