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A clinic in every village by 2011

CHINA is to set up at least one clinic in every village within three years to improve health care at grassroots level, according to an implementation plan for medical reform released by the State Council.

The government will also support the construction of 2,000 hospitals at county level to guarantee that each county has a hospital meeting the national standard, the three-year plan (2009-2011) said, adding that more township hospitals and clinics will be built or expanded this year.

The country will build or renovate 3,700 community clinics and 11,000 health service centers in urban areas within three years. The central government will also build 2,400 such centers in underdeveloped urban areas during the same period.

The development of health care services in rural areas has lagged behind because most medical facilities and doctors are in cities, the plan said.

Poorly-equipped rural clinics and a shortage of staff had restricted the quality and availability of health care in rural areas.

In the reform plan, China is to offer about 1.9 million training sessions for village and township medical clinics and urban community medical institutions, part of a plan to produce general practitioners to work in the countryside.

Beijing has promised to invest 850 billion yuan (US$124.4 billion) in medical reform.

Every third-class urban hospital (the highest level under the Chinese evaluation system) will have to establish long-term cooperative relations with about three county-level or qualified township hospitals.

The project of sending urban doctors to practice in rural areas will continue. Doctors in large urban hospitals and disease prevention and control facilities must work in the countryside for one year before getting promoted.

Meanwhile, college graduates are being encouraged to work in rural areas. Those who volunteer to stay in rural clinics for more than three years will be exempted from paying back school loans.

Over the next three years, China will train 1.37 million village doctors and 160,000 community doctors.


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