Thursday, 31 January 2013

What the British NHS can learn from China

by Professor Mala Rao, Institute for Health and Human Development, University of East London.
China’s transformed economic and political status led to the UK closing its bilateral aid programme in 2011. Instead, the UK Department for International Development launched the UK-China Global Development Partnership Programme (GDPP) to foster collaboration in areas including the reduction of poverty and achievement of the millennium development goals globally. The programme will build on lessons from China’s unparalleled success in decreasing infant, child, and maternal mortality rates and from China’s recent reforms of its health sector. So the nature of “aid” from the UK to India and China is rapidly evolving into one of technical partnerships, with leaders in disciplines such as science and policy working together, and is intended to benefit the rest of the world as well as all three countries.
Despite the changing world order, compelling arguments exist for fostering these partnerships. Improving global health is vital to the UK’s domestic and international interests. The health of the UK population is closely tied to global health, which is determined by factors not confined to national boundaries, such as migration, trade, conflicts, and climate change. The case for the UK to improve national security by helping India and China strengthen their disease control systems, as well as those of other countries, is no more powerfully demonstrated than by the global spread of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS) in 2003, which originated in Hong Kong and Vietnam. Tackling large problems requires global cooperation, and the UK’s best chance of success is through partnership with the two most powerful emerging economies.
Trade is vital to the UK’s economy and is greatly influenced by global interdependence. China and India are home to 36% of the world’s population, and their economies continue to grow during the global downturn. China’s 12th five year plan has prioritised improvements in healthcare, social welfare, and education. In India too, an increase of public expenditure on health from 1.4% of gross domestic product currently to 2.5% is anticipated by 2017, giving an unprecedented opportunity to work towards universal access to quality healthcare.
Source: BMJ

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