World Health Day: China in action to achieve 'Health for All'
A medical worker conducts a free medical check for a local resident, Taizhou City, east China's Jiangsu Province, April 7, 2023. /CFP
A medical worker conducts a free medical check for a local resident, Taizhou City, east China's Jiangsu Province, April 7, 2023. /CFP

A medical worker conducts a free medical check for a local resident, Taizhou City, east China's Jiangsu Province, April 7, 2023. /CFP

During the past seven decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been dedicated to promoting health services, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable.

With the theme of "Health for All," this year's World Health Day falls on Friday, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the WHO.

"Over the past seven and a half decades, there has been extraordinary progress in protecting people from diseases and destruction, including smallpox eradication, reducing the incidence of polio by 99 percent, saving millions of lives through childhood immunization, declines in maternal mortality and improving health and well-being for millions more," said the WHO.

It noted that "a renewed commitment to health equity will be the key to addressing future health challenges" in the next 75 years, and urged countries to prioritize primary healthcare as the foundation of universal health coverage.

China, which has consistently contributed to global health, observed the day with a theme of transferring high-quality medical resources to the grassroots and achieving health for all.

Last year, the country pledged to significantly enhance the capability of public health services, bring a number of major diseases under control and to an end, and continue to improve the quality of medical and health services, in a plan for national health during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

Sinking quality medical resources 

China has always regarded people's health as its top priority. One of the highlights in recent years has been channeling more quality medical resources to local communities, for building a more systematic, consistent, scientific, balanced and efficient service system.

Since 2020, China has earmarked more than 110 billion yuan (about $16 billion) to support the building of medical and health institutions at all levels, laying a solid foundation for improving epidemic containment and medical treatment, Wu Xiangtian, deputy director of the Planning, Development and Informatization Department of the National Health Commission (NHC), said at a press conference last month.

Wu said the NHC will continue to work with relevant departments to support medical infrastructure construction and optimize the distribution of medical resources in local areas, and build a three-tier medical and health service network with public hospitals as the main body.

The construction of smart hospitals will also be sped up, he said, in a bid to improve the digitalization of medical institutions to further extend telemedicine to villages and townships.

A number of regional medical center projects have been implemented across the country, which has effectively provided the people with high-quality medical resources close to their residence, therefore reducing cross-province and cross-regional medical treatment, said the NHC in March.

Branches of high-level national hospitals in municipalities like Beijing and Shanghai and cities like Guangzhou have been built in provinces with weaker medical resources in recent years, and national medical centers specializing in oncology, neurology, cardiovascular disease and pediatrics have been established to treat diseases with high mortality, heavy disease burden and intensive referral to other hospitals.

"So far, 76 national, regional medical center projects have been implemented, with more than 60,000 beds planned, covering provinces with relatively weak medical resources," said the NHC.

A more recent guideline issued by the NHC required the creation of a stable working mechanism at the county level by 2025 to pay regular medical visits and dispatch medical personnel to villages and townships, a measure to further improve the accessibility and convenience of basic health services for rural residents.

By that time, the accessibility of medical services for rural residents will be significantly improved, to ensure that common diseases can be solved within cities and counties, and minor illnesses such as headache and fever be solved in towns and villages, said the guideline.

Adhering to the "people first, life first" principle, China's endeavor to improve the medical and health service has contributed to an increasing average life expectancy from 35 years in 1949 to 78.2 years in 2021. It has eradicated infectious diseases including smallpox, polio and malaria, and the main health indicators rank among the highest of middle and high-income countries.

"China will continue to promote the expansion of quality medical resources and balance regional distribution of medical services to improve all-round, full-cycle health services and support abilities," said Wu.

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