Beijing, June 7 (IANS) Concerned over increasing health problems, China has decided to provide ‘family doctors’ to every household in the country by 2020.
The State Council’s Medical Reform Office said 200 cities will come under the service in 2016. In the following year, it plans to provide the facility to about 30 percent of China’s population.
With a population of about 1.4 billion, of which 9 percent is elderly, China is faced with rising health problems such as cancer and obesity among others.
The problems have to do with various factors which range from pollution to sedentary lifestyle.
In 2015, over four million people were diagnosed with cancer and nearly three million died from it.
Family doctors are expected to serve as health guards for Chinese people, Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
A health official said the move will reduce healthcare costs and make it more accessible to public.
The doctors, to be put into services, will be from local hospitals and clinics and rural areas.
The public healthcare system is overburdened in China, which is faced with a shortage of doctors. The burgeoning middle class has given rise to growing privatization in the health sector.
According to state-run newspaper Global Times, there was an acute shortage of pediatrician in China: an average of 0.53 doctors for every 1,000 children.
According to WHO, China had 1.9 physicians per 1,000 people.
China ranked 95th globally in health expenditure per capita in 2013, according to the most recent World Bank data.