SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China to provide funds to build new institutions and infrastructure to fight infectious diseases and improve health care, the state planning body said in a “five-year plan” for the sector .
The central government will subsidize the construction of new infectious disease “prevention bases” and new basic medical facilities across the country, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in the plan, released Thursday.
He said China faces difficult health challenges, including new emerging infectious diseases, the growing burden of chronic diseases as well as the growing need for mental health services.
“The public health system is in urgent need of improvement, and the capacity to prevent, control and treat large epidemics is not strong,” he warned.
High-quality medical resources are also insufficient and unevenly distributed, and there are also gaps in the treatment of women and children, he added.
China acknowledged last year that the spread of COVID-19, first detected in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, highlighted “systemic gaps and problems” in the way it has handled crises sanitary facilities.
Although medical institutions are obliged to report outbreaks as soon as they are identified, authorities in Wuhan have been accused of trying to cover up early cases and silence whistleblowers.
The NDRC said new “major infectious disease prevention bases” would be built in all major cities and would be equipped to treat large numbers of patients and deploy rapid response teams to affected areas.
The central government would provide grants of up to 300 million yuan ($ 46.32 million) for each prevention base. It will also provide up to 500 million yuan to help local governments set up new comprehensive regional medical centers.
Additional funds will also be available to help local governments set up new projects designed to integrate traditional Chinese and Western medicine, and to build new maternal and child health facilities, he said.
He did not give a figure for total expenditure on the plans.
($ 1 = 6.4769 yuan)
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Kim Coghill