China's urban healthcare​: The Lancet report

By Rohan Gupta

Published on 5, May, 2018

China is working on an ambition healthcare project. It wants to establish a basic health system to provide effective, low-cost health services to its more than 1.3 billion citizens. A report by The Lancet notices that the country is adopting several approaches in urban health management.

China’s is improving its healthcare. It is taking steps to address health challenges such as controlling environmental pollution, improving liveability of urban environments and strengthening prevention and control of disease. It is adopting several approaches in urban health management, but more efforts are needed to build healthy cities, according to a special report jointly released by Tsinghua University and the prestigious medical Lancet journal Wednesday.

Here are the major takeaways from the report titled "Healthy cities: unlocking the power of cities for a healthy China.

1.       China is experiencing a huge wave of in-migration towards the cities which makes the issue of safe, sustainable cities more imperative to public health. China has ‘Hygienic city’ movements in place since 1989 to improve urban health. These efforts have worked to impart a health advantage to cities in terms of a longer life expectancy compared to rural China among others. What helped with the efficient provision of public utilities was the high population density of Chinese cities.

2.       According to the report, Chinese cities are facing an inequality problem as rural immigrants (composing 15% of urban populations) are not having access to the same facilities as those with urban Hukou. Hukou is the term for official residency status which determines access to employment, housing and other benefits in China’s cities.

3.       The report says that as China shifts its priority from economic prosperity to social prosperity, it will face challenges like– rapidly ageing populations, slow infrastructural growth, inequalities and unsafe roads. A more inclusive approach is needed to tackle inequality requiring a pervasive implementation of public programmes.

4.       To combat obesity, stroke and other health issue China needs to target the unhealthy choices made by its residents in alcohol, diet and exercise.

5.       China has made progress with pollution abatement and climate change, noticeable in the bluer skies of Chinese cities which were once characterised by excessive air pollution. But progress needs to be faster and equitable.

6.       China needs to reduce the disparities between its three public health insurance schemes that provide unequitable protection to urban residents. Delivery of primary care needs a major overhaul, particularly in the outpatient department as there is a mismatch between the patients who have basic medical needs and the high-level expertise available.

7.       The report is optimistic about the potential of China’s cities to tackle these challenges with the strength of a billion inhabitants by 2030 and 70% of the budget.