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Concern over hospital funding
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-07 05:54

The situation of public hospitals raising the bulk of their funds through selling medicine must change to ensure better health care, experts claim.

Nearly 90 per cent of their income comes from marketing activities, such as the sale of medicine and services, rather than government funding.

"If the profit-making practice of the public hospitals is not changed, it will be nearly impossible to improve health care," said Gao Qiang, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Gao, who is also health minister, has been in the spotlight of media which are reporting the ongoing annual sessions of the CPPCC and the National People's Congress (NPC).

Since the early 1980s, the investment from government to hospitals, the majority of which are State-owned, has decreased rapidly,

It now only accounts for less than 10 per cent of the total income of hospitals nowadays.

Instead, State policy allows hospitals to sell medicines at a price 15 per cent higher than that fixed by medicine producers and distributors to raise money.

In rural areas, all the medicines used for clinical purposes must be sold by doctors in hospitals.

However, it had led to some doctors, forced by hospital presidents or encouraged by the pharmaceutical industry, overly subscribing medicines to bring in funds.

"In the eyes of many common residents now, doctors are not angels who save the dying and treat injuries, but enemies who always want patients to buy more medicines and undergo unnecessary examinations," said Xu Xiuyu, a deputy to the NPC from Heilongjiang Province.
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