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April 14, 2018

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WHO praises China’s efforts on health

THIS year’s theme for World Health Day last week was “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.”

On its 70th anniversary, the World Health Organization called on world leaders to commit to concrete steps to advance that aim, ensuring everyone everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship by 2030.

The development of “Healthy China 2030” is central to the Chinese government’s agenda for health and development, and huge steps have already been taken. 

China’s basic medical insurance system now covers more than 1.35 billion people, according to the National Health Commission.

About 1.05 billion urban and rural residents now have access to health insurance, with the insured rate remaining at more than 95 percent.

“China is a leader in health coverage for all,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during his 2017 visit to China.

Thanks to the decades of efforts, China’s health index has improved significantly, with rising life expectancy and declining infant mortality.

Universal health coverage, according to the WHO, means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardships.

It includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services — from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

With increasing improvement of its health insurance system, China has given its huge population a safety net that protects people from being impoverished by health-care costs. This makes a tremendous contribution to a fair and prosperous society.

Domestic public financing is the predominant source to achieve universal health coverage. However, it’s not just about health financing, according to the WHO, but encompasses all components of the health system — health service delivery system, the workforce, facilities and communication networks, health-related technologies, information system, quality assurance mechanism, as well as governance and legislation.

This means universal health coverage is not only about ensuring a minimum package of health services, but also about ensuring a progressive expansion of coverage of health services and financial protection.

The WHO attributed China’s great achievements to its well-functioning health system, which has become a cornerstone of universal health and provides a roadmap for addressing global coverage of basic health services.

“Ultimately, universal health coverage is a political choice. It takes vision, courage and long-term thinking,” said Dr Tedros. “It is the responsibility of every country and national government to pursue it.”


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