July 5, 2009 -- China's central government has ordered local governments to increase funding for public health care system, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website Sunday.
Investment from governments at all levels should aim at providing universal basic medical services and supporting public health services, medical insurance systems and medicine supply and safety, said a circular issued by ministries of finance, health, civil affairs, human resources and social security, and the National Development and Reform Commission.
The money should be mainly used to improve public, rural and urban community health services and medical insurance, and promote the development of traditional Chinese medicine.
The circular said both central and local governments should increase spending on health care in order to ease financial burdens on the people.
Governments should ensure sufficient funding for equal public health services in rural and urban areas, increase investment in public hospitals and encourage more private medical institutions, it said
Governments should subsidize the basic medical insurance system and the rural cooperative medical system, and raise subsidies in line with economic growth, it said.
Governments are also required to invest more to strengthen management and supervision of food and medicines, said the circular.
The central government passed the medical reform plan in January, which promised to spend 850 billion yuan (124.4 billion U.S. dollars) by 2011 to provide universal health care to the country's 1.3 billion population.