Shanghai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A luxurious hospital for new mothers is to open its doors in Shanghai during the Christmas season. It will be equipped with a tennis court and swimming pool. Meanwhile, a week ago, a migrant woman delivered her baby daughter in the street.
The new hospital in Putuo District will provide the same services as a five-star hotel. Apart from nursing services, facilities will include a golf course, tennis court, swimming pool and yoga gym. There will be classes to teach new mothers how to care for their babies and to keep in shape and well groomed. The presidential suite will cost 9,880 yuan (1,263 US dollars) per day while normal rooms will go for around 1,300 yuan (166 dollars).
The initiative appears to be successful with Wang Yiliang, one of the hospital managers, saying many rooms have already been booked by local residents and people coming from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan who live in Shanghai. The Year of the Pig is about to start and is considered one of the most auspicious years to give birth.
In a country increasingly gripped by the contradictions prevailing in capitalist countries, on 14 December, the Shanghai Children's Hospitalization Mutual Aid Fund celebrated its 10th anniversary. The government-supported fund helps all families with children in primary and middle schools, even those who are not resident in the city, to pay medical bills, with contributions ranging from 50 (6.25 dollars) to 60 yuan per year.
Meanwhile, a week ago, Cao Zhangjie, a migrant from Anhui now living in Shanghai, delivered her baby in a street in Minhang district after she got premature labour pains and her relatives were unable to find an ambulance or taxi. Her husband said she did not have a single hospital check during her pregnancy.
The Chinese health system forces most people to pay their own medical bills, from the cost of medicines to hospitalization. To make matters worse, funds for health care are constantly dwindling, forcing hospitals to “finance themselves”. Thus they often push up the prices of medicines while patients with insurance are offered care they do not really need so the hospital can claim expenses. In 2005, the Development Research Center of the State Council admitted that "medical reform has failed", citing wasted resources and a decreasing number of medical services offered as the population increases. The "Green Book of Health" published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in May 2006, said the system was inefficient and inequitable, with a "lack of government financial support, inadequate official supervision and improper government intervention in some areas".
In December 2005, a survey of health care service revealed that 48.9% of Chinese people do not go to hospital when ill, because hospital care “is too expensive”. The same survey found that the government pays only 15% of total health care (the percentage was 39% in 1986) and 60% is paid by the sick people themselves.
But private hospitals are a profit-making business, with more than 200 establishments at the end of 2005 and many more in the pipeline. According to David Wood, president of ChinaCare Group in Beijing, experts in the hospital sector, a maternity clinic is a good investment. Wood said that while medical equipment for a general-care facility would cost 20 to 30 million US dollars for 250 to 500 beds, a maternity facility would probably cost only 3 million.