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FACTBOX: Progress in China's medical reform over the past year
 

BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government unveiled a three-year plan for health care reform, involving an investment of at least 850 billion yuan, in April 2009.

During the past year, the reform has brought significant changes to public health care services.

UNIVERSAL COVERAGE OF MEDICAL INSURANCE

Basic medical insurance has been extended to more than 1.2 billion people in rural and urban areas, pooling more money and offering more assistance to the patients.

More than 94 percent -- 833 million -- of farmers had joined the new rural corporative medical care system (NCMS) by the end of 2009.

The number of recipients of the basic medical insurance for urban workers and residents topped 400 million in 2009.

In most rural areas, the maximum coverage for medical expenses has risen to six times the annual average income of a local farmer.

The national annual average income of farmer in 2009 was 5,000 yuan (735 U.S. dollars).

ESSENTIAL MEDICINE SYSTEM

The government launched the essential medicine system in August 2009.

Essential medicines are those that satisfy health care needs and are available to the public at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the public can afford.

The government has issued a list of 307 essential drugs with price caps.

At the end of February, about a third of China's rural grassroots medical institutions and 45 percent of the government-run urban community hospitals had implemented the essential medicine system.

Among the areas carrying out this project, the average prices of drugs and medicine have fallen by 30 percent.

GRASSROOTS MEDICAL SERVICES

The central government allocated 20 billion yuan (2.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009 for construction of 5,689 hospitals at grassroots level, of which about 45 percent are in service.

More than 10,000 health institutions and about 70,000 village clinics were built with funds from local governments.

So far about 980,000 medical staff at grassroots level have been trained. A total of 1,091 China's most advanced hospitals have built long-term aid and assistance ties with 2,184 county hospitals.

The advanced hospitals will help the county hospitals in expertise, surgery and skills training.

MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH PROJECTS

In 2009, more than 100 million Chinese received free A/H1N1 inoculations. About 30 million children under the age 15 benefited from free hepatitis B inoculations.

Free surgery for impoverished cataract patients has helped restore the sight of 210,000 people, and about 2 million rural women have received free periodical checks for cervical and breast cancer.



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