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June 11, 2012

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Pediatrician shortage plagues Shanghai

SHANGHAI has only 2,000 pediatricians, half of the number it needs amid an ongoing expansion of hospitals that will add 1,200 pediatric beds in the next five years, hospital officials say.

More training of professional doctors, proper use of limited health resources and more favorable policies for pediatricians are key to help meet the clinical demand, industry insiders told a pediatric seminar over the weekend.

"Shanghai is not the only city lacking pediatricians, as the whole nation is in a serious shortage of pediatricians, which only grew by 5,000 in the past 15 years," said Zhu Zonghan, director of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association's pediatric branch.

In the United States, every 1,000 children share 1.36 pediatricians and the ration is 1,000 to three in Germany. There are only 62,000 pediatricians for 267 million Chinese children - more than 4,000 children per doctor.

High stress, low pay

"Pediatricians have a stronger workload and bigger mental pressure and lower income, compared with adult practitioners," said Liu Jinfen, president of Shanghai Children's Medical Center. "The average income of a pediatrician is at least 20 to 30 percent lower than doctors treating adults.

The low financial and academic position results in the shrinking of pediatric departments in many comprehensive hospitals, many of which just shut off their pediatric service and save the beds and space for other lucrative departments.

Such conditions worsen the situation even in comprehensive hospitals and pediatric hospitals. The capability drops in ordinary hospitals, while pediatric hospitals are crowded all the time.

Over half of pediatric outpatient and emergency services in the city are fulfilled in the four pediatric hospitals, most of whose patients have common diseases like colds.

"Over two thirds of patients at my hospitals suffer small and common diseases, which can be cured in the community hospitals or lower-level comprehensive hospitals," Liu said. "Professional hospitals should focus on complicated diseases and treat critical patients."


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