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China Human Rights Net > News > Focus > Health Care Reform Guidelines Unveiled in China 2009 > Analysis
China's health-care reform plan hailed as encouraging, right decision
April 7, 2009 -- Officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank have said China's commitment to universal access to basic health care in its new health care reform plan was an encouraging and right decision.

Dr. Sarah Barber, an official with WHO Representative Office in China, said that the aim to improve equitable access to essential health care for all in China was "laudable."

The health sector reform plan prioritizes public health, rural health development, essential medicines, and primary health care facilities. Plans to significantly increase funding to support these areas pave the way for achieving these goals, said Barber.

The official said that the success of the reforms, however, will depend on how effectively this vision is implemented in different sectors and regions across China.

John C. Langenbrunner, lead health economist with the World Bank East Asia and Pacific Region, said that "it is indeed an encouraging and right decision for the government to commit to universal access to basic health care."

It definitely should be a priority for the government to focus on rural health, public health, and community health, and working on the five priorities, he said

He also stressed the importance for China to choose a reform path depending on its own conditions while learning from other countries.

"Obviously, China needs to develop its own health care system, appropriate to its values, goals, and burden of disease", said Barber.

However, many health systems in the world are trying to solve the same problems in providing accessible, quality care for their populations.

It is, therefore, useful to study and evaluate how other countries have addressed the same problems, and learn from these experiences, said the WHO official.

Langenbrunner said the reform path to be chosen is depending on sociopolitical choices, economic development, and the profile of disease burden problems faced by individual countries.

It is unwitting to copy any country health reform package without analyzing its country context and key issues faced by its health system when designing China's own health reform, he said.

Commenting on China's moves since 2006 to seek public opinion from inside and outside China, including the World Bank, Langenbrunner said it is a positive direction for the government to seek public opinion and preference regarding health reform.

"Health is very personal for all of us. And, the general public has the final words on whether the current health reform will be successful or not," he said.

Barber said WHO hope that the Chinese government will continue to involve key stakeholders as the plan further develops.
China Society For Human Rights Studies
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