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End of state-run hospitals monopoly looming
Updated: 2004-04-10 09:22

With increasing public complaints on medical services, China plans to attract more social investment to break the monopoly of state-run hospitals.

"While the government is increasing investment to ensure basic medical services, we also encourage social organizations and individuals to join the medical service sector," executive vice health minister Gao Qiang said here Friday at a two-day national health conference closed Friday.

"Investors from the social sector are allowed to make profit and obtain reasonable payoff," Gao said.

Statistics from the ministry showed that by the end of 2002, China has a total of 297,000 hospitals, of which 32 per cent are state-run, 18 per cent are of collective property rights, 46 percent are private and four percent with overseas investment.

"Even though the number of non-state-run hospitals is increasing very fast in recent years, over 90 percent of them are small private clinics," said Cai Renhua, director of the National Health Economic Institute.

"The state-run medical agencies are still in a predominant position and provide 95 percent of all the diagnose, treatment and hospitalization services," he said. "None of the other types of hospitals have the capability to compete with them."

In addition to attracting social investment, Gao said China is planing to restructure and reform the state-run hospitals. "The reform should be carried out in a well-planed way instead of being sold out simply."

Meanwhile, Gao said China will modify hospital administrative regulations and set up different economic policy to different types of medical agencies.

Statistics showed that Chinese spent a total of 350 billion yuan (about US$42.3) for medical services every year.

Compared with developed countries, there is still large room to probe in the medical service market in China, Cai said.

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