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China to enhance public health system to better protect people's lives

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-05-26 10:01
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President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, joins a deliberation with deputies from Hubei Province at the third session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, capital of China, May 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- China will step up efforts in building a stronger protection network in the public health domain to better protect people's lives and health as the country is shifting to COVID-19 regular prevention and control.

On Sunday, President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed fortifying the public health protection network as he was participating in a deliberation at the annual national legislative session with lawmakers from Central China's Hubei province, recently hard-hit by the epidemic.

China's public health and medical service systems have played their key roles in dealing with the epidemic, but some weak links and inadequacies were also exposed, Xi said, urging prompt efforts to fix them.

Xi stressed reforming disease prevention and control system; boosting the epidemic monitoring, early warning and emergency response capacity; perfecting the treatment system for major epidemics; and improving public health emergency laws and regulations.

At the ongoing "two sessions" that also include the annual session of the country's top political advisory body, issues concerning public health security have become some of the most discussed topics, with national lawmakers and political advisors putting forward bills and suggestions to improve the country's public health system.

In its annual work report, the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, or the top legislature, said it will prioritize legislation on public health this year.

The committee said it will revise a slew of laws this year, including the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law, and the Emergency Response Law.

Chinese lawmakers and political advisors proposed improving the emergency response mechanism for major epidemics in a comprehensive way.

Ge Minghua, an NPC deputy, suggested establishing of and improving on a unified and efficient leadership and command system, and a direct and automatically-triggered reporting mechanism for public health emergencies with unknown causes.

His remarks were echoed by Ling Yun, another NPC deputy, who proposed that under the command system, command centers should be set up at different levels across the country.

The lawmakers and political advisors also suggested enhancing the treatment system for major epidemics and strengthening the building of qualified public health teams.

According to the government work report submitted to the national legislature for deliberation, China will increase inputs on the research and development of vaccines, medicines and rapid testing technologies.

The country will also build more medical facilities for epidemic control and treatment, set up more mobile laboratories, ensure emergency supplies and strengthen public health and epidemic prevention at the primary level, the report said.

Wang Chen, a political advisor and a renowned respiratory specialist, said China should enhance medical education by establishing a sound mechanism to attract talent to study medicine and foster more health care practitioners.

He also suggested building a higher-level national institute of medical science, which can lead and coordinate overall medical research and innovation for the development of health and life sciences.

Yue Xihuan, an NPC deputy and a community-level official, stressed the need to enhance the construction of public health teams at the primary level.

"In the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic, community-level medical facilities have taken huge responsibilities for epidemic prevention and control, but these facilities are short on medical staff," said Yue. "We should increase the flow of medical professionals to the community levels and rural areas."

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