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Full Text: Development of China's Public Health as an Essential Element of Human Rights
September 30,2017   By:Xinhua
The development in the field of health services has brought concrete benefits to the Chinese people. The average life expectancy of the Chinese rose to 76.5 years in 2016 from 67.9 years in 1981; maternal mortality dropped from 88.9 per 100,000 persons in 1990 to 19.9 per 100,000 persons in 2016; and infant mortality declined from 34.7 per 1,000 in 1981 to 7.5 per 1,000 in 2016. The main health indicators of the Chinese are generally better than the average level of middle- and high-income countries, and China has achieved the UN's Millennium Goals in this regard ahead of schedule. Furthermore, China has established a complete medical and health system that is guided by the Constitution, based on civil laws and regulations, laws and administrative regulations on health, and local regulations, and directed by the outlines, programs, and plans of the health sector. The system has proved effective in maintaining sound doctor-patient relations, addressing medical disputes with impartiality, and ensuring citizens' right to health.
 
The reform of the medical sector has produced noticeable results. Within a short period of time, China was able to achieve the following: developing the world's largest basic medical insurance network that covers all citizens, providing insurance for patients of serious diseases, enabling patients to receive emergency medical services, and improving medical assistance. All this has provided institutional guarantee that patients have access to medical services. The state has gained effective control over serious infectious diseases, has kept the spread of AIDS at a low level, has achieved the tuberculosis control target of the UN's Millennium Goals ahead of schedule, has reduced the number of schistosome infections to the lowest level in history, and became a polio-free country in 2000. China set up the world's largest online direct reporting system of notifiable epidemics and public health emergencies in 2015, and the average reporting time has been shortened to four hours from five days before the introduction of the system.
 
Significant progress has been made in developing a system of medical and healthcare services. A basic medical services network covering both urban and rural areas has been put in place, with 980,000 medical and health institutions at all levels, 11 million health workers, and seven million beds at medical institutions. The state has increased its efforts to foster more medical professionals. A standardization training system for resident doctors is being established, and outstanding figures such as Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine Tu Youyou have made significant contributions to society. As more social resources flow into the medical sector, private hospitals now account for over 57 percent of all hospitals, making medical services more diverse. China's medical and health emergency rescue capability is among the world's best. It stood the severe test of the Ebola epidemic, blocking all infectious sources from outside its territory and achieved zero infection while Chinese medical teams went on assistance missions in Africa.
 
After many years of hard work, a new stage has been reached in China's medical and health services. This has not only made the Chinese people healthier, but has also created a model suited to the country's prevailing conditions that is able to ensure people's right to health. This model has the following features:
 
-- Prioritizing health and fitness. The government places people's health at the forefront of its development strategies, based on China's prevailing reality, incorporates the awareness of maintaining and improving people's health into the decision-making process of policies and the formulation and implementation of laws and regulations, and strives to achieve sound and coordinated development between healthy lifestyles, working conditions, the natural environment, and the economy and society.
 
-- Focusing on prevention. The focus on healthcare has been shifted from treating illnesses to enhancing people's health. Equal emphasis is put on disease prevention and treatment, and the well-being of both mind and body. Western medicine and TCM have been made complementary to each other. More efforts have been focused on the prevention and control of chronic, endemic and occupational diseases. In order to reduce the occurrences of illnesses, China's medical sector is striving to learn more about the patterns and development of health-related issues, emphasizing early diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
 
-- Nonprofit services. The basic medical and healthcare services will continue to be basically nonprofit, and made available to all citizens as a public product. Public hospitals are the pillar of the medical service system, and steps will be taken to ensure universal access to public-health services.
 
-- Equality and benefit for all. The state will continue to ensure full coverage of health and medical services. Focusing on rural areas and communities, the gaps in health conditions between urban and rural areas, between different localities and between different groups will be gradually narrowed, so that everyone has equal access to basic health services.
 
-- Universal participation and sharing of benefits. The government will continue to assume the leading role, while private organizations and individuals are encouraged to participate. The goal is to involve all citizens in the building and development of the medical care system, with the benefits jointly shared by all. The government will appropriately handle its relationship with the market, so that the former can play its due role in the basic medical and healthcare sector and that the market can provide more choices in the non-basic medical care sector.
 
Table 1 Main health indicators in selected years
 
(Editor's note: Please find the chart released by Xinhua's Photographic News Department.)

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Sept. 30, 2017 -- Graphics shows main health indicators in selected years written in the "Development of China's Public Health as an Essential Element of Human Rights" white paper, issued by the State Council Information Office. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)