China approves universal health care plan
China will spend 850 billion yuan ($124.26 billion) to offer health care to its 1.3 billion citizens.
At a meeting of the nation's State Council presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, the expenditure, with aims to guarantee universal medical coverage to China's population by 2011, was approved, Xinhua reported Wednesday.
"Growing public criticism of soaring medical fees, a lack of access to affordable medical services, poor doctor-patient relationship and low medical insurance coverage compelled the government to launch the new round of reforms," according to the report. Measures to be taken between now and 2011 include equalizing the level of care available in urban and rural areas, cataloguing and supervising drugs, and the launch of a pilot program to overhaul hospital administration, operation and supervision.
"Primary healthcare and medical services will become accessible to more people (and) people's medical expenses will be visibly reduced," the draft plan reads. According to China's Ministry of Health, about 400 million people have no health care coverage at all.