China is gearing up to do what the Scandinavians have been good at for years, and what the U.S. hopes to at least attempt at some point in its existence: quality health care for all.
But the real news? The entire "package" is focused on prevention, not treatment, coordinated through national and local bodies, complete with health education, vaccination services, maternity care, and more.
In top public health schools around the world, prevention is lauded as a superior approach when it comes to health policy and management. Why? Because prevention reduces the burden of disease on society, government, hospitals, and other institutions.
The way the plan works is as follows: Local clinics deliver services to all, while the government pays an average of 15 yuan ($2.25) per person per year, for the entire country of 1 billion plus people. The idea is to ensure that everyone—rural and urban—has access to quality care, hence the involvement of entities from privately owned clinics to grassroots organizations.
"It's a huge investment by the government, for prevention work is a long-term task that needs at least a decade to bear fruit," said Wu Ming, a professor at the Peking University School of Public Health, as quoted in the China Daily.
The plan began to take shape last year, but what has evolved in the implementation of the project is a bridging of the gap between rural and urban health statistics.
Regarding the focus on prevention, said Ming, "That's more in line with a global trend to highlight prevention in health service delivery and is particularly significant for the huge rural population in the country, who had little access to such services before."
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[Image by Andrew Turner]