BEIJING, July 8, 2009 -- China has vowed to expand the basic medical insurance to another 72 million people for 2009 as the first-year goal for the country's ambitious 850-billion-yuan (124 billion U.S. dollars) health care reform plan.
The figure was revealed here Wednesday at a conference held by the State Council, or the Cabinet. Also, the country will guarantee basic medical health care service for 6.07 million laid-off workers of state-owned companies as of the end of this year.
"2009 is the first year for the health care reform plan. We must specify responsibilities and goals to ensure a good start," said a statement released after the meeting, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
Another goal is to set up a long-term cooperation relationship between more than 900 leading city hospitals and 2,000 county-level hospitals across the country to exchange medical resources.
As part of the plan, the country has already kicked off a government-sponsored program to offer free cervical cancer screening for some 10 million rural women and breast cancer exams for 1.2 million over the next three years.
Also, Hepatitis B vaccinations will be provided for those who were born between 1994 and 2001 but not inoculated. About 23.3 million people, or 31 percent of the target population, would be given shots, according to the Ministry of Health.
"The plan is a very tough and complicated mission... We should always see the direction clearly and act according to our capability," said the statement
The State Council urged the mapping of detailed regulations as soon as possible to ensure the smooth running of the plan.
China unveiled a three-year plan on health care reform in April. In it the government said it will provide universal access to basic health insurance.
During the conference, the State Council also approved drafted implementing regulations of the Food Safety Law, which took effect on June 1.
The drafted regulations specify more details on the responsibilities of product companies and local governments in food safety issues.