China's new law promoting basic medical care takes effect from June
By Wu Guoxiu

China's first fundamental and comprehensive law on basic medical and health care will take effect in less than a month. One of its drafters says China has already upheld the law's basic principles in its fight against the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has helped the world realize the importance of health and policies to protect it. China's Law on Promotion of Basic Medical and Health Care was approved on December 28, 2019, and will take effect on June 1. Professor of Law, Wang Chenguang of Tsinghua University is one of its drafters. He says that for the first time, the right to health is being put forward as a basic human right at a legal level in Chinese law. 

"It specified for the first time that citizens have the right to health. Every citizen has the right to obtain basic medical care service and insurance. It's a broader legal concept, different from what's in the civil laws, that others shall not infringe upon your body. Here it's a positive right to health. The nation, society and medical institutes should take the initiative to provide health care service to citizens," Wang said. 

The law aims to promote the development of medical and health care, improve the health of Chinese citizens, and build a "healthy China." 

It says health must be prioritized. The medical and health care industry shall take a people-centered approach and always serve the public. Wang says this concept has been reflected in COVID-19 control. 

"It has shown clearly though this pandemic control, that people's lives and health should be prioritized. So the government ordered to save all infected people with full efforts, without considering costs, no matter the elderly or babies", he says. 

The law specifies that all medical and health care institutions should do their part to provide all-aspect and full-life-cycle public health and medical services. It stipulates "health must be included into all policies." 

Based on this fundamental law, Wang expects more laws to come out and build a complete medical and health care legal system. 

According to China's top legislature the National People's Congress, the nation already has a public health legal system involving over 30 laws. But lawmakers say the COVID-19 pandemic has indicated the need for systematic law revisions and improvements.

In 2020 and 2021, the legislature will formulate or revise 17 health-related laws.