CHINA: Healthcare for All?

After entering its most difficult stage February 26, China’s ongoing medical reform has been approved.

On March 1, the new China-World Health Organization Country Cooperation Strategy went into effect and will establish funds to subsidize emergency medical fees.  This means medical bills accumulated by the poor and patients whose identities are unclear will be guaranteed by the Chinese government.

The strategy summarizes a general outline for collaboration between the WHO and Chinese government to better the health and welfare of the Chinese people.  The decision to create such a framework was fashioned amid the government’s efforts to help patients who were being denied treatment because they were too poor to pay.

Said Zhang Liming, a WHO deputy director in Shanghai: “Public hospitals should serve as a base providing essential healthcare to the people rather than a profiting institution.”  The one question that the media is asking is who would qualify for such financial assistance?  Sun Zhigang, the director of the health reform office of the State Council,  said precise criteria must be devised by “governments and medical institutions based on local conditions.”

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