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“Health China” rises as national strategy and new economic driver
2015-11-13 14:12

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The Communique of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee proposes to upgrade “Health China” as a national strategy. Several experts indicate that health promotion not only directly creates productivity but also supplements with economic development. The notion of keeping health will enjoy increasingly popular support in the future and be integrated into the governing ideas of governments of all levels. The government will input more into health sector and enhance the level of medical insurance, and might establish a comprehensive assessment system on health effects. Benefited by emerging policy dividend, the “general health” industry will also lead the new round of economic development.

Policy: construction plan for “Health China” to formulated

Jin Weigang, head of the Social Security Institute under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told the journalist from the Economic Information Daily that the idea of building “Health China” is in line with international development trend, meaning a higher-level goal. At present, the overall health level of Chinese people is lower than international average level. Medical reform covers not only issues including “difficulties and high cost in getting medical service” but also the prevention and recovery of diseases as well as people’s health consciousness.

Improving national health is not only an important way to enhance people’s sense of happiness but also is closely connected with the economic development. “Health itself is productivity”, indicated by Ma Weihang, deputy chief of the Health and Family Planning Commission of Zhejiang Province. Ma Weihang also indicated that the input in health will bring about real benefits, of which the most outstanding output is the extension of people’s lifetime and the decreased burden brought by diseases. According to measurement by researches including the Third National Health Service Survey, the total economic burden brought by diseases reached 2,396.8 billion yuan in China, equal to 13.1 percent of China’s GDP in the same year. The results of the Fourth National Health Service Survey announced in 2009 also showed that the burden brought by diseases to Chinese keeps growing in the past decade with the burden caused by major chronic diseases highlighted.

Anyway, it is foreseeable that people’s health will be further improved through the construction of “Health China”. The journalist learns that the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) has fully initiated the formulation of the Construction Plan for Health China (2016-2020) at the beginning of September this year. It is learnt that the plan, different from previous five-year development plans for health and family planning, is upgraded as a national strategy which highlights orientation in people’s health, implements “Health China” strategy and integrates it into policies for social and economic development, and aims to realize healthy development goals through comprehensive policy measures.

“We are now preparing plans on promoting the ‘Health China’ strategy. We will further deepen the medical and health care reform, establish a fairer and more easily accessible basic medical care system and modern hospital management system and further improve medical insurance system. We will also carry out hierarchical medical treatment, improve grassroots medical institutions, shore up weak spots and improve quality of medical services to make people have a sense of gain. We should also put disease prevention on the first place and strengthen the prevention of infectious diseases, chronic diseases, endemic, occupational disease,” Li Bin, director of the NHFPC says. “To construct the ‘Health China’ strategy is everyone’s duty. We should advocate healthy lifestyle. Everyone should enhance self-health management and try not to get sick, which is also a common goal of all people.”

Tendency: health concept will gradually integrate with other policies

Experts believe that as the government attaches more importance to health issues, the notion of keeping health will gradually take root in people’s hearts and integrate with the government’s governing ideas.

Under this background, the medical and health reform will change its direction: its focus will shift to promoting and guaranteeing people’s health from making people easily access to medical treatment. Some experts say that after “Health China” rises as a national strategy, the government will input more into health sector and enhance the level of medical insurance, and might establish a comprehensive assessment system on health effects. When preparing plans on regional development, the government should include health indicator and increase its weight and make the guarantee for people’s health a major performance indictor of the government.

However, to promote people’s health has to involve different government departments and levels; therefore, it requires highly collaboration among them. Experts believe that to promote people’s health should be a common goal for all government departments, thus better integrating with other policies.

“The reform of government institutions should enhance the integration between medical insurance and medical service governance”, suggests Jiao Hong, deputy director of China Food and Drug Administration. The fiscal, public health, medical insurance, industry and regulations polices concerning health should be consistent. Fiscal policies should lay a foundation for guaranteeing basic medical insurance; public health policies should focus on the prevention of chronic disease; medical insurance policies should narrow the difference among different peoples and focus on critical illness insurance. Health industry policies should make efforts in improving the concentration and scale of the medicine and medical equipment industries; the government should clarify boundary of basic medical insurance and create conditions for commercial health insurance to play a role; consumption policies should highlight factors in favor of good health, including smoking and alcohol control.

Opportunity: general health industry to become new economic growth engine

Under the background of constructing “Health China”, relevant industries related to general health are expected to boom and become new economic growth engine in the future. 

Some research reports indicate that the general health industry has become the biggest emerging industry in the world. While compared with the United States, Japan or even many developing countries, the general health industry of China has just started. Statistics show that health industry in the U.S. takes up over 15 percent in GDP and that in Canada and Japan and other countries accounts for more than 10 percent in GDP, while China’s health industry only contributes 4 percent to 5 percent to GDP.

Industry participants believe that implementing the national health strategy will not only give rise to the enterprises producing and developing drugs and medical devices and such industries as healthcare service industry, health insurance industry, pension industry and internet-based healthcare industry. It will also bring new opportunities to fields including environmental protection, foods safety and others, which are closely bound up with healthy life. They suggest offering major support to the emerging strategic pillar industries such as self-developed drugs, medical consumables, medical devices and expensive medical instrument, and health service industry which is related to healthy lifestyle and nursing for the aged. According to the target of action plan on developing health industry, which was proposed in the Research Report on “Healthy China 2020” Strategy released by the NHFPC, more than 80 percent drugs and over 50 percent medical consumables and devices should be bought by the medical and health organizations at all levels from domestic enterprises by 2020.

Some securities companies believe that the medical treatment and health industry will see the market size exceeding 10 trillion yuan during the 13th five-year plan period. With the reform on drug prices, health insurance’s guidance and supervision on drug prices strengthening and improvement in operation efficiency of medical market, the pharmaceuticals industry will keep stable growth in the future. In addition, encouraging social forces to develop health service industry and pushing forward non-profit private hospitals to enjoy the same treatment with public hospitals will facilitate the development of healthcare service industry and realize the medical treatment and health service with a full life cycle covering the combination of healthcare and health maintenance and health insurance.
Translated by Jennifer Lu / Vanessa Chen / Coral Zhong
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