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[procaare] Rural health plan finally unveiled

  • From: ProCAARE <procaare@usa.healthnet.org>
  • Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 14:48:06 -0500 (EST)

Rural health plan finally unveiled
[AIDSFlash] HIV/AIDS Regional Press - No 220 (11.04.2002)

The State Council has unveiled a plan intended to provide basic health care to China's 900
million rural residents by 2010, following years of intense preparations.

Published in full by Xinhua, the plan focuses on reinvigorating the health-care
co-operatives that flourished in the countryside in the 1950s but became increasingly
ineffective with the introduction of market economics in the 1980s.

Governments at city and county level have been given full responsibility for establishing
at least one health-care clinic as well as health-care co-operatives in all their
townships by 2010.

While the published plan is vague on details of what is meant by basic health care, it
does mention some important indicators.

Specific targets include providing 90 per cent of children with key vaccinations, cutting
child and maternal mortality rates by 20 per cent and 25 per cent respectively from 2000
levels, and giving 75 per cent of people in the countryside access to basic information on

The plan also places a strong emphasis on improving the quality of personnel at rural

Those who have a middle-school education and five years of medical vocational training or
people with a high-school education and three years of medical training will be allowed to
provide basic medical care. The plan aims for the vast majority of village "doctors" to
obtain at least a medical assistant's qualification by 2010.

While county and township governments will face the financial burden of paying for the new
clinics and services, the central and provincial governments have promised to establish a
fund next year that will provide guaranteed financial aid for some poor impoverished

Although many key details are not provided, the plan says the central and provincial
governments will each allocate 10 yuan (HK$9.40) for each person in central and western
regions, which they can draw on as insurance for catastrophic care issues.

Villagers also will be required to contribute between 10 yuan and 20 yuan towards the

Unicef's senior project officer for health and nutrition, Ray Yip, said the plan was a
huge step in the right direction, but did not address the crucial issues of paying medical
staff and controlling the costs of medical care and prescription drugs. Dr Yip said:
"There was a huge rush to announce the plan under the current administration, and so we
can best consider this a work in progress, with more details to follow next spring."

Source: South China Morning Post, 31 October 2002: Leigh Jenkins

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