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    » 06/26/2012, 00.00

    CHINA

    After factories and energy, Beijing opens up the health market



    The central government is unable to cover the need for treatments and low-cost drugs for the entire population and looks for international partners that could lower health care costs. But more than 200 million people, including immigrants and farmers, cannot even afford to be admitted. This matter involves a turnover of 500 billion dollars, in constant growth.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) - After low-cost industrial production and the race for energy reserves, China will also open up the health market. In the country, there are 260 million people suffering from cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases, and the central government is looking for partners (including international ones) able to improve the performance of the NHS.

    On 23 June, the Chinese Minister of Health, Chen Zhu, warned: "85% of the causes of death among Chinese citizens are due to chronic diseases: a series of circumstances has resulted in unprecedented challenges that the public health services must face."

    Speaking from Shanghai, the Minister stressed that the mechanism of public health services "is facing challenges that go far beyond the health sector itself and which are rooted in different social environments: it's necessary not only to improve the prevention and day-to-day control of diseases, but also to play an important role in dealing with significant public health emergencies."

    According to the Chinese Constitution, every citizen is entitled to free medical care and drugs, but only in their area of ​​birth. For migrants (the real engine of industrial development in the country) and for farmers, these services are not guaranteed. For this reason Beijing is looking for health groups from around the world that can offer low cost services that it cannot provide.

    The most recent one is the Carlyle Group LP, which last week acquired 52% of the hospital Chang'an. This operation arises from statements made by Beijing, which wants to sell by 2015 at least 20% of hospitals to private interests. The turnover is huge: every year the market grows by 18%, and within 2 ½ years it will reach a volume of 500 billion dollars.

    David Chow, who leads Harvest Medical Investment and Operation Group in Taiwan, says: "The Chinese gross domestic product is growing by leaps and bounds, but the quality of medical services is very backward. We have in front of us a massive growth potential, both in number of beds served and in the cost of individual treatments." However, this project does not include at least 200 million people.

    According to government sources, over 95% of China's population in 2011 had health insurance provided by the government. But the data does not refer to those who, for economic reasons, have left their birthplace to seek their fortune in other parts of China. The migrants, as well as farmers evicted from their fields due to the needs of industrial development, are not included in these figures.

    After the industrial reforms of the Seventies and Eighties, less than 10% of farmers and migrant Chinese had access to medical care. In 2009 the central government launched a plan to force employers to register them and pay for their medical care, announcing triumphantly that it had "defeated the scourge of health care." However, several international NGOs argue that in 2011 "more than 200 million people simply could not afford medicine or a doctor."

     

     

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    See also

    07/04/2009 CHINA
    Beijing announces major health reform, but doesn't say how it will be implemented
    A clear rejection of the current hospital system, run by companies that must make a profit. The "non-profit nature" of health care is affirmed instead, and the desire to guarantee that it can be used by all. But experts note the lack of specific guidelines for implementation.

    04/10/2005 CHINA
    Only those with money can afford health care in China
    For 20 years hospitals have been run on a profit basis. Only a minority is covered by medical insurance; others sell what they own or try their own remedies. Hospitals often prescribe unnecessary treatment and drugs.

    19/12/2006 CHINA
    Shanghai: maternity clinic with tennis, golf, while migrant delivers baby outside
    The luxury suite will cost 9,880 yuan per day and many rooms are already booked. Meanwhile the local government is paying annual subsidies of 50 yuan per year for sick children.

    04/07/2006 CHINA
    Henan: activist knifed after denouncing public health corruption

    For years, Liu Xiaowu has been struggling against the government silence regarding people with AIDS. He was attacked and injured for denouncing the resale by public officials of anti-HIV drugs, supplied free-of-charge from the State.



    06/03/2009 INDIA
    Operation for reusing medical equipment discovered in Gujarat
    Syringes, needles, intravenous drips and even containers were washed and reused. At least 56 people have died and 100 are sick with hepatitis B in the state because of the recycling of these materials. Accusations point to doctors and to the same companies that were responsible for disposing of medical waste.



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