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China unveils action plan for universal access to basic health care

CHINA unveiled a three-year action plan on health care reform today, which it said would lay a solid foundation for equitable and universal access to essential health care for all in China.

Under the 850 billion yuan (US$124 billion) plan for 2009 to 2011, the government promised universal access to basic health insurance, introduction of an essential drug system, improved primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and pilot reform of state-run hospitals.

The document from the State Council, or Cabinet, detailed tasks and goals for the 2009-2011 period as the government explained how it would implement its long-term health care reform plan, which it announced yesterday.

To improve primary health care facilities, China will give priority to construction of about 2,000 county-level hospitals so each county would have at least one hospital that was essentially in compliance with national standards.

The central government will fund the construction of 29,000 township hospitals this year and upgrading of 5,000 township hospitals, under the plan.

The central government will also finance the construction of village clinics in remote areas so that every village will have a clinic in the next three years.

It said 3,700 community health centers and 11,000 community health stations would be set up or upgraded in cities.

The government said essential, universal health insurance programs would cover a growing share of the bills and ease the financial burden on every citizen.

Three different health insurance programs already exist for urban employees, unemployed urban residents and rural residents.

The health insurance subsidy offered by the government for unemployed urban residents and farmers will rise by 50 percent to 120 yuan per person as of next year, according to the action plan.


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