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March 4, 2013

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Lawmaker: Chronic illness care needs cure

THE number of patients with chronic diseases has risen dramatically in Shanghai in recent years, while the number of specialists for the diseases often is inadequate, especially in major hospitals, a national lawmaker who leads the city's diabetes research institute said yesterday.

Local hospitals saw a total of 210 million patients in 2012, which means each citizen went to hospitals about 12 times on average. Many have chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, said Jia Weiping, who is director of the Shanghai Diabetes Institute and Shanghai No.6 People's Hospital.

"The number of chronic diseases has erupted, even among many young people, with economic development and changes in living standards," Jia said on the sidelines of a preparatory meeting for the annual National People Congress, which starts tomorrow in Beijing.

The large and growing number of patients is overworking local doctors since they need long-term and repeated treatments, Jia said. Each doctor at major local hospitals has to see about 100 patients on average every day, compared with as few as 10 for their counterparts in some Western countries, Jia said. The Shanghai No. 6 People's Hospital serves over 10,000 patients a day, she added.

"Some of our doctors even have no time to go to toilet and see patients one after another," she said.

Jia proposed the city government launch training programs for doctors at community clinics, most of whom have little expertise in chronic diseases.

A protocol should be set up to make it easier for patients at the clinics to be transported directly to large hospitals when necessary, she said. That would encourage more patients with chronic diseases to go to community clinics for routine treatment, Jia said.

The Shanghai Health Bureau has said it will launch an e-health program so patients' medical records can be shared among local hospitals and clinics to prevent unnecessary health checks and save medical resources.

"Patients will be able to get their health check results at home instead of going to the crowded hospitals," said Xu Jianguang, director of the Shanghai Health Bureau. Doctors will be able to make a quicker diagnosis and provide better treatment more swiftly, he added.


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