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August 10, 2009

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Thousands of hospitals built around country

CHINA has spent 71.6 billion yuan (US$10.5 billion) on health care since a reform plan started in April, said the State Council's Office of Health Care Reform.

The money, part of a 850 billion yuan reform package, has financed the construction of 986 county-level hospitals, 3,549 township hospitals, and 1,154 community health centers in the first half of the year, the office said at the weekend.

By the end of June, about 337 million urban residents had been enrolled in medical insurance programs, 19 million more than at the end of last year. The number of rural residents covered had grown by 160 million to 830 million.

One-thousand doctors have been hired for township hospitals this year, and about 120,000 rural health personnel and 53,000 community health officers had received training, the office said.

About 15.8 billion yuan has been spent on projects to provide basic medical services such as free hepatitis B vaccinations for those born between 1994 and 2001 who have not been inoculated yet.

Another major project started is the setting up of a health archives system for all of China's huge population.

A list of essential drugs for state-run hospitals has been determined, said the office.

Up to 30 percent of state-owned community health institutes and county-level hospitals are expected to adopt the new essential drug system later this year, it said.

The listed drugs would be provided to hospitals at controlled low prices to reduce patients' medication costs. The office did not say when or if the list would be published.

The three-year reform plan intends to cover more than 90 percent of the country's population under a basic medical insurance scheme by 2011.


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