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» 23/07/2009 [Company watch]
China Aoxing Pharmaceutical Corp. Receives Renewal of GMP Certification for Capsule Dosage Form of Pharmaceutical Products
» 15/03/2010 [Industry news]
Recordati S.p.A And Lee Pharmaceutical Announce Partnership For Zanidip(R) In China
» 26/10/2009 [Finance]
China Growth to Remain Fast in Fourth Quarter, Official Says
» 17/08/2009 [Industry news]
Chindex Posts Profit on Product Sales, Health Services
» 07/05/2010 [Industry news]
Hong Kong: Recall of all products manufactured by Quality Pharmaceutical Lab Ltd
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»14/12/2009 [Independent reports]
Primary healthcare sector in China surges ahead

Primary healthcare facilities concept, better known as Community Health Centers (CHC) and Community Health Stations (CHS) in urban China, was first initiated in 1997, to address the rising public cries towards increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible healthcare at the tertiary care hospitals in the urban cities. Thus, the Chinese government began to shift its focus from purely large general hospitals development to primary community healthcare.

 
Primary healthcare facilities concept, better known as Community Health Centers (CHC) and Community Health Stations (CHS) in urban China, was first initiated in 1997, to address the rising public cries towards increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible healthcare at the tertiary care hospitals in the urban cities. Thus, the Chinese government began to shift its focus from purely large general hospitals development to primary community healthcare. However, little emphasis or investment was made towards CHC and CHS development by the government, until the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. The SARS incident exposed the weakness of the former hospital-centric China’s healthcare system, and highlighted the importance of developing good community-based public health and primary medical care by the Chinese government. Under the directive of China’s Ministry of Health (MoH), CHC and CHS healthcare functions broadly encompasses two major areas, namely public health and primary medical care with major focus on six main service functions such as health education, disease prevention, health management, primary medical care, family planning, and rehabilitation. The CHC and CHS function as a ‘gatekeeper’ for providing education and treatment for common and frequently occurring diseases, as per the traditional concept of a family physician. The focus is on disease prevention, early diagnosis, basic medical management and monitoring, rehabilitation and recovery, for everyone in the community. According to China’s Ministry of Health (MoH), the establishment target is for every 30,000 to 100,000 urban population there will be a CHC to take care of their community medical needs, with each CHC ideally supported by several smaller CHS (as required), enabling the community under the CHC coverage to have access to medical treatment within 15 minutes of walking distance. For cities/districts where the city urban population is too sparse and with limited resources, CHC are generally not established. In these cases, the less equipped and basic CHS becomes the major primary healthcare establishment to serve the population. Ever since the SARS incident, China’s CHC infrastructure has grown tremendously over the last four years at a CAGR of 37.5 percent, with CHC outpatient visits growing even faster, at a CAGR of 39.0 percent. Plagued by a financial burden from ballooning pensions and medical spending related to an increasing incidence of chronic diseases in a demographically aging population; pollution, smoking, dietary changes and lack of exercise as a result of increasing affluence; expensive costs of quality medical care for the general population; and unrelenting congestion situation at level 2 and 3 hospitals; the government has identified the community outreach intervention through CHC and CHS as the most cost-effective strategy to address this situation, supplemented by advanced medical care support from level 2 and 3 hospitals . The government is well aware that the current investment and infrastructure for CHC and CHS are highly inadequate to cope with the growing needs of the population. Hence, in the 2009 Healthcare Reform Plans announced by Mr Chen Zhu, the Health Minister of China, major emphasis was given for the development of primary healthcare in China, with an estimated budget allocation of $124 billion (RMB 850 billion) to be disbursed over the next three years, and a total of 3,700 CHCs to be established or upgraded in major cities across China. This include an estimated $600 million (RMB 4.1 billion) to be disbursed by the Central government for the setting up or upgrade of 2,400 CHCs in needy cities by 2011, and an additional $32.22 million (about RMB 220 million) to be allocated for the purchase of medical devices. With such a strong government initiative and assured massive investments together with a clear focus on community-centric primary healthcare, CHC’s strong growth trend is expected to continue. Vast opportunities are available for suppliers and distributors who can position themselves well to serve the rapidly growing healthcare segment in China. Mr Tan Shen Leng is the Associate Consultant with Clearstate, a niche healthcare consultancy based in Singapore. Clearstate offers strategic advisory and intelligence services to help medical devices, healthcare services, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms understand their current and potential markets, implement pragmatic and innovative strategies to ultimately tap into new growth opportunities.

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