Sunday, 30 November 2014

Cancer treatment unaffordable | Drug pricing corruption | Premier tackles HIV stigma | Rare diseases not reimbursed | US medical exams popular in China

Public punchbag to pay son's cancer fees
In Beijing a man who cannot afford the Y700,000 ($114,000) medical bills for his son with leukaemia has offered himself as a public punchbag to raise money. The man called Xia Jun stands outside Guomao station and asks for 10 Yuan to be thumped. He says he has collected 10,000 yuan in one day without anyone taking up the opportunity to hit him.

Corruption on drug price setting cited as reason for abolition
The recent move to abolish price caps for prescription medicines was triggered by corruption in the agency charged with setting drug prices. Critics said officials in the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) were under investigation by the anti-corruption and bribery bureau under the Supreme People's Procurate for taking bribes. Pharma company executives said the current pricing system forced them to pay bribes to regulators to set higher procurement prices.

Premier lends support to ending HIV stigma
Premier Li Keqiang has shown public support for people with HIV and aimed to dispel prejudice and ignorance about the infection by visiting  a HIV clinic at the inspected Beijing You'an Hospital.
 For World AIDS Day, the Premier met HIV patients and healthcare workers and said the old attitudes of fear surrounding the topic of HIV must be abandoned and HIV patients need more care.

Rare diseases slip through the health insurance cracks
China's health system is not working for children with rare diseases, as their families face high treatment costs and no access to medical fee reimbursement, according to an article in the SCMP. One mother of a 3-year old boy with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) said his bills for diagnosis and treatment had reached nearly 200,000 yuan ($33,000), of which just 4,800 yuan ($780) had been reimbursed by the rural medical insurance scheme.

US medical exams popular in China
Thousands of China's medical students and young doctors are studying for the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) that will allow them to practice medicine in the US. However, despite studying for up to 1500 hours for the exam, many of them say they are taking it to improve their medical skill rather than just to get a better paying job. Many Chinese students said the US medical exams taught them a more patient-centred approach and put more emphasis on communication and empathy rather than just rote-learning of medical facts. The test is also taken by many of the 60,000 foreign students studying medicine in China.

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