China’s State Council passed a long awaited medical reform plan which promised to spend 850 billion yuan (USD 123 billion) by 2011 to provide universal medical service to the country’s 1.3 billion population. The plan was studied and passed at Wednesday’s meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. The government has been deliberating medical reform since 2006. According to reform plans, authorities would take measures within three years to provide basic medical security to all Chinese in urban and rural areas, improve the quality of medical services, and make medical services more accessible and affordable for ordinary people. The meeting decided to take the following five measures by 2011:
- Increase the amount of rural and urban population covered by the basic medical insurance system or the new rural cooperative medical system to at least 90 per cent by 2011.
- Each person covered by the systems would receive an annual subsidy of USD 17.50 from 2010.
- Build a basic medicine system that includes a catalogue of necessary drugs produced and distributed under government control and supervision starting from this year. All medicine included would be covered by medical insurance, and a special administration for the system would be established.
- Improve services of grassroots medical institutions, especially hospitals at county levels, township clinics or those in remote villages, and community health centres in less developed cities.
- Gradually provide equal public health services in both rural and urban areas in the country.
- Launch a pilot programme starting from this year to reform public hospitals in terms of their administration, operation and supervision, in order to improve the quality of their services.