Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Xiamen should lead in cross-straits medical cooperation

Xiamen, a coastal city in Fujian province, should serve as the pioneer in hosting wholly Taiwan-invested hospitals, a national legislator has suggested.
"The city could become an ideal way to raise cross-Straits medical cooperation to a new level," Chen Zixuan, vice-chairwoman of the Fujian committee of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, one of the eight non-Communist parties on the mainland, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the 12th National People's Congress.
Since the Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone was formally created by the State Council in 2011 to accelerate trade with Taiwan, Xiamen has been the province's "initiator" in many areas related to promoting cross-Straits ties, Chen said.
Currently, there are around 4,000 Taiwan-funded enterprises in Xiamen and more than 100,000 Taiwan people are living in the city.
According to the Fujian committee of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, Taiwan people prefer hospitals with a Taiwan background for treatment.
The city has experience in Taiwan-invested hospital services and management, Chen said, as it hosted the province's first mainland-Taiwan jointly funded hospital, Xiamen Chang Gung Hospital, which was established in 2008.
The committee also pointed out that the growing demand for high-end medical services shows the huge potential of the mainland's medical services market.
Taiwan investors are permitted to set up wholly owned hospitals in Fujian, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Hainan provinces, and Shanghai.
Shanghai Landseed International Hospital, the only wholly Taiwan-invested hospital on the mainland, opened for business in Shanghai on June 26.
According to the Ministry of Health, 22 Taiwan-funded hospitals, all joint ventures, had started operation on the mainland by the end of 2011.
Partially due to the high bar set by the ministry, which states that wholly Taiwan-invested hospitals should have a total investment of at least 20 million yuan ($3.2 million), most Taiwan-funded medical establishments on the mainland are still joint ventures, Chen said.
In that case, the health authorities should lower the requirements on total investment, Chen suggested.
Chen said procedures and policies for Taiwan doctors' applying to practice on the mainland should be simplified.
"Taiwan medical practitioners' certificates should be examined every five years, rather than annually," she added.
Fujian Governor Su Shulin said recently that deepening cross-Straits ties, including strengthening medical cooperation, will remain high on the government's agenda over the next five years.
Chen Qiuli, director of Fujian's health department, said establishing wholly Taiwan-invested hospitals could help avoid the disputes that sometimes occur in joint ventures concerning investment in equipment and management.
He pledged to offer Taiwan investors preferential policies on issues such as land for construction, tax and insurance.
Source: China Daily

Insurance industry will give farmers better medical insurance, says PICC boss

"As urbanization in China accelerates, many problems tend to manifest," according to Wu Yan, chairman of the board of The People's Insurance Company (Group) of China, in his proposal on Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference sessions.
"China faces low urban carrying capacities and a widening rural-urban gap. People in urban and rural regions don't have equal access to basic public services. These problems will hinder China's urbanization process," The Economic Observer reported citing Wu.
The insurance industry has the capacity to assist the government in coordinating rural-urban development and improving security services and social management, Wu said.
In Wu's proposal, he expects the insurance industry to provide farmers with better medical and old-age insurance, public security services and financial support, which are conducive to rural-urban transformation.
The main priority in Wu's proposal is to assist governments in extending rural medical security coverage. Wu called for more joint medical insurance programs applied in Zhanjiang in Guangdong province and Taicang in Guangxi province.
For example, since April 2011, a PICC subsidiary company has been working with the local government of Taicang city in Chinese southeastern Jiangsu province. The government covers the insurance for all citizens registered in the medical insurance system and PICC gives patients back more than half of the amount that goes over 10,000 yuan.
PICC provides insurance for rural and urban patients with the same insurance quota. It signals China's move toward the application of a single nationwide medical security policy, according to Wu.
Source: China Daily

Chinese cardiologists get Pradaxa and AF education courtesy of Boehringer and ACC

In parallel with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, initial results have been released from a physician educational programme being undertaken to rectify misunderstandings on stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation (AF) in China. 
The programme offered by the ACC and the Chinese Society of Cardiology with the support of Boehringer Ingelheim, is part of wider international educational activities. It is designed to address the current chronic under-treatment of atrial fibrillation in China and meet future needs for the prevention of AF-related strokes. Following the formation of a Steering Committee with international experts from the ACC and Chinese experts from the Chinese Society of Cardiology, foundational ‘Train the Trainer’ meetings were completed in early 2013. With the support of these trainers, the educational programme will now be rolled out in hospitals across China, reaching over 4,000 cardiologists during 2013.
It is estimated that there are over 8 million patients with atrial fibrillation in China, considerably more than in Europe and the US, and the number continues to rise. Of these patients, currently only 10% receive any form of treatment for stroke prevention in China, far below the average treatment rates worldwide and in other parts of Asia. Results from the global RE-LY AF Registry have highlighted the significant need for effective stroke prevention in China, where more AF patients suffered a stroke (7.2%) versus South East Asia (6.6%) and North America (3.1%) within a one year follow-up period.2 For this reason the American College of Cardiology, the largest non-profit medical association in cardiology, together with the Chinese Society of Cardiology, and with support from Boehringer Ingelheim, has developed an educational programme to increase the understanding of atrial fibrillation treatments and management in China.
“The first Expert Consensus on AF Anticoagulation Treatment in China has identified the importance of primary and secondary stroke prevention for patients with atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation leads to a five-fold increase in the risk of stroke, especially the risk of ischaemic stroke, which accounts for 92% of all AF-related strokes,” commented Prof. Dayi Hu, President of the Chinese Society of Cardiology. “There is still considerable misunderstanding amongst Chinese doctors on the role of anticoagulant treatments such as warfarin for stroke prevention in AF patients, leading to significant and widespread underuse. In light of the recent innovations in the field and the introduction of novel oral anticoagulants, physician education is even more crucial for improving patient outcomes.”
Following the formation of a Steering Committee between the ACC and the Chinese Society of Cardiology, ‘Train the Trainer’ meetings were undertaken in January 2013 led by Professors John Camm and Elaine Hylek to build the foundation of the educational programme in China. Ten pilot centres will be set-up throughout China in 2013 offering over fifty lectures and face-to-face exchanges in hospitals with top local and global experts in AF. The contents of the lectures will be based on actual clinical practice to address the ‘real needs of China’. The programme is expected to reach over 4,000 cardiologists during 2013.
“The Train the Trainer meetings have allowed us to build a firm foundation from which to undertake peer-to-peer sharing of medical knowledge, expertise and clinical skills,” stated Professor John Camm, Head of the Division of Cardiac and Vascular Sciences at St. Georges Hospital, UK. “Working together we hope to standardise the care of patients with atrial fibrillation in China throughout 2013.”
“The American College of Cardiology is thrilled to collaborate with the Chinese Society of Cardiology and Boehringer Ingelheim to bring physician training to our counterparts in China,” said ACC President William A. Zoghbi, MD, FACC. “We hope to improve patient care and outcomes across China by working together to share our experience and expertise.”
Physician education is essential to ensure appropriate and best use of treatments. With the recent addition of novel oral anticoagulants into treatment guidelines worldwide, physicians now have more options to consider for AF patients at risk of stroke.
Source: Boehringer

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Moving from profit to public service: reforming China's hospitals

National advisers at the ongoing political sessions in Beijing are discussing ways to speed up the reform of the country's public hospitals.
Pilot reform projects have now been in place in 16 cities since the plan was rolled out in 2010.
During the past three years, China has adopted different reform measures in pilot government-run hospitals throughout the country.
The core principle of the reform is to provide basic health care as a "public service," including improving the way of seeing doctors.
However, the reform still cannot be fully implemented nationwide with increasing complaints about high medical costs, especially costs for unnecessary medical tests and prescription drugs by large public hospitals.
Yang Jinsheng is a researcher at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.
"There's no trans-hospital network about the in-hospital information of patients. Patients go to different hospitals to see doctors, and hospitals only rely on their own treatments. So patients are asked to do many medical tests if they change hospitals." However, sometimes such unnecessary costs are charged due to a pursuit of profit.
Public hospitals in China enjoyed full government funding before 1985. But the situation changed as they embarked on a market-oriented reform as economic reform and opening up policy was adopted in late 1978.
The market-oriented reform greatly improved medical service, but also resulted in soaring costs for medical services and drug prescriptions.
Sun Fengyuan, vice president of the Tianjin First Center Hospital, suggests the government offer a compensation mechanism to public hospitals.
"Hospitals should be institutions working for the public welfare, and should have some basic guarantees. Now they only rely on themselves to make profits. It's difficult to control. If they don't make money on prescription drug sales, they may have difficulties in economic turnover. But if the government offers compensation, there's no need to do so."
Sun also suggests an equal distribution of medical resources so that small hospitals can also provide quality treatment for patients. This will also help reduce the long waiting hours before seeing doctors in big hospitals.
He Wei, president of He's Medical University in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, agrees.
He says building a team of quality medical workers at county-level hospitals can be one of the solutions.
"It's a rapid way to strengthen the training of fundamental medical workers. And at the same time send quality medical resources to the grassroots. Neither of the two can be dispensed with."
He also suggests the government further open the medical sector to private investors, hoping that medical costs could drop through competition.
Source: Xinhua

Hainan to set up foreign medical zone

China's southernmost island of Hainan Province will set up a "special zone," where overseas medical institutions will enjoy preferential business policies for boosting medical tourism, a senior official said Wednesday.
The Boao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone will be located along the east coast of the island and near the town of Boao, where the Boao Forum for Asia has been held annually since 2001, said Hainan governor Jiang Dingzhi.
Jiang said medical travels, already popular in some Asian countries like Singapore and India, combine travels with leisure and health care, and are likely to boom in China thanks to the rising living standards of people.
The zone, already approved by the State Council on Feb. 28, will enjoy preferential policies that are seen nowhere else, the governor said.
Foreign medical institutions will be allowed to set up business within the zone, while medical joint ventures will not be subject to a share ceiling, a limitation upon overseas medical business in China, Jiang said.
Lower taxes will be granted to imported medical instruments and medicines in the zone, and frontier medical programs like stem cell research will be allowed, Jiang said.
"It is the only travel zone of its kind in the country and I am confident that it will be a success," Jiang, a deputy to the National People's Congress, the top legislature, told reporters on the sidelines of the parliamentary session.
The tropical island province, with its sun, sea and sand, is striving to build itself into an internationally famed travel destination.
According to the provincial statistics bureau, visitors to the island exceeded 33 million in 2012, with travel revenues hitting 37.9 billion yuan (6 billion U.S. dollars).
Jiang, however, noted that travel business on the island is more traditional, hence the need for modern travel modes of technological and cultural attraction.
Covering an area of 200 square kilometers, the zone will be built with an investment up to 100 billion yuan. "It is a huge program," he said.
Jiang said there is no detailed timetable for the program, but he hoped the zone will be operational within two or three years. "The construction of the medical travel zone has already started," he added.
Source: People's Daily

Health ministry to merge with Family Planning Commission

China plans to set up a national health and family planning commission through merging the existing Health Ministry with the National Population and Family Planning Commission, according to a report delivered by State Councilor Ma Kai to the annual session of the country's top legislature on Sunday.
The integration of the two ministerial-level departments aims to better uphold the basic national policy of family planning, improve medical care service, and deepen the institutional reform of medical care and public health, says the report on the State Council institutional reform and transformation of government functions.
It also aims to optimize the resources allocation of medical care and public health as well as family planning services, improve the health of the people including the newborns, the report says.
The proposed national health and family planning commission will be responsible for planning the resources allocation of medical care and public health as well as family planning services, establishing basic medicine system, forming China's family planning policy, and supervising, administering the services of public health, medical care and family planning, the report says.
The functions of studying and drawing up population development strategy and population policy of the existing National Population and Family Planning Commission will be transferred to the existing National Development and Reform Commission, the report says.
The existing State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, currently affiliated with the Health Ministry, will be administered by the proposed national health and family planning commission, the report says.
After the reform, China will adhere to and improve the family planning policy, the report says.
Source: Xinhua

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

One in fifity Shanghai women has cancer

One in every 50 Shanghai women has cancer, a total of more than 140,000 currently living in the city. Each year 357 in every 100,000 are diagnosed with cancer in the city - 25,000 cases - and there are 14,000 deaths from it, health officials said ahead of International Women's Day on Friday.
Cancer statistics are based on citizens with permanent residency, officials from the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.
They said the city's incidence of cancer in women was rising slowly along with its rising number of elderly people.
However, early screening for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers can help prevent 30 percent of cancer cases.
Breast, colorectal, lung, gastric and thyroid cancers are the five most common forms among women, with breast cancer accounting for 16 percent of Shanghai's new cases each year and colorectal cancer 13 percent.
Cervical cancer, although only the 12th leading cancer in women in Shanghai, is particularly prevalent among women between 25 and 54 years old.
Dr Zheng Ying, director of the center's tumor prevention and control department, said breast, colorectal and cervical cancers accounted for 32 percent of female cancers.
"However," he added, "the three types of cancer can be detected and treated properly through early and regular screening. Our main target of women's cancer prevention education this year is breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer."
The prevention and control of colorectal cancer will be a new public health project this year with the city government promoting a community-based screening program.
Cases of colorectal cancer are rising by 4 percent a year in Shanghai.
Experts say women over 20 should examine their breasts every month and have annual clinical checks after the age of 35. Women over 50 should have mammograms every two years.
For cervical cancer, women over 20 should be checked every three years.
Women over 50 years old should have annual medical checks.
Zheng said anyone with a family history of the three types of cancer should be aware of the need for more frequent examinations and early screening.
Source: Shanghai Daily

Wenzhou doctor gets her skates on

A female doctor in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, has started using roller skates to save time while on duty as she needs to shuttle between various hospital departments to treat patients, earning admiration from members of the online community.
The woman surnamed Cui, a cardiovascular physician at First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhu Meical College, said she was exhausted after running around the hospital all day and the roller skates made it a lot faster and easier.
Zhang Huaiqin, Cui's leader, was the first one to post her story online.
"The new hospital is 20 times larger than before and cardiac physicians have so many urgent consultations," he said.
Zhang said their own department has capacity for 153 patients, but they are frequently required to care for patients in other wards because there are a large number of elderly patients with high blood pressure and heart problems.
Doctors are expected to reach consultation offices within five minutes, according to a Ministry of Health rule. To save time, most physicians run between different hospital departments, Zhang said. Doctors can run up to 12 kilometers a day, he said.
Some netizens expressed admiration for Cui's devotion to her job.
"I have seen waiters with roller skates, but never doctors in a hospital. It's a good idea and should be advocated among physicians," a netizen said.
The hospital said it doesn't encourage others to follow Cui's example due to safety concerns.
Source: china.org.cn

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Taiwanese urge to avoid unethical organ transplants in mainland China

Medical and legal specialists yesterday discussed legislative developments on regulating organ transplants abroad and urged the Taiwanese government to recognize the seriousness of the organ-harvesting crimes perpetrated in China and to legislate against organ transplants using illicit or unknown organ sources.
In a round-table discussion organized by the Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan, doctors and human rights advocates invited by the Taiwan International Care Association for Organ Transplants called any organ transplant done at the expense of another person’s life and “organ harvesting” undertaken without the consent of the organ providers “a crime against humanity.”
In the context of the growing global demand for organ transplants in recent years, illegal trafficking and trade of human organs and transplant tourism have raised serious concerns and caused raging controversies.
Among these issues, unethical organ-harvesting practices in China are a major problem that requires wider awareness and attention, the experts said.
This is especially true for Taiwanese, the association said, adding that data from the Department of Health showed that more than 88 percent, or 1,754, of Taiwanese patients who underwent organ transplants went to China for their operations between 2000 and 2011.
Not only do organs that come from questionable origins expose patients in Chinese hospitals to medical and legal risks, they might also have come from prisoners of conscience and executed prisoners, putting the patients in an ethical bind, the care association said.
Source: Taipei Times

Free emergency medical treatment to be provided for the poor

China will set up funds to subsidize emergency medical fees incurred by the poor and patients whose identities are unclear, the State Council said in a guideline issued Friday.
The move came amid the government's efforts to help patients whose inability to pay medical bills has resulted in hospitals ignoring them or refusing treatment.
The funds will be used to cover emergency medical treatments for acute illnesses or serious injuries among the poor and patients whose identities have not been confirmed, said Sun Zhigang, director of the health reform office of the State Council.
However, it is not yet clear who would qualify for such financial assistance. Sun said specific criteria to determine whether a patient qualifies need to be worked out by governments and medical institutions based on local conditions.
The Ministry of Health will lead efforts to determine which illnesses and injuries can be covered, as well as develop compensation standards, according to the guideline, which did not include a timeline.
Provincial and prefecture-level governments are required to set up such funds, which will be jointly financed by government revenue and public donations, the guideline says.
The funds, described by the State Council as an important guarantee for establishing an emergency assistance system in China, will be operated by provincial and prefecture-level government health departments.
The health departments will be supervised by a special committee of legislators, political advisors, medical experts, donors and media representatives.
Expenditures will also be subject to public supervision, according to the guideline.
Source: Xinhua