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Murali Gangadharan, Head of Research at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Shanghai, said that China, due to the lacks in public hospitals’ services, is looking at the healthcare sector as an industry, while – in the past - it was considered as a social sector. The government and investment firms argued that China’s public healthcare infrastructure is unable to satisfy demands, which have been increased due to the raising affluent middle class and the aging population.

Last December, the Chinese administration called for more private investments in the healthcare sector and declared healthcare removed from the list of restricted investment sectors. Private healthcare investment firms are coming up in such a sector, where patients have to queue for a long time to receive a bad hospital care. The system is in many ways inadequate in serving the public’s needs. For instance, in public hospitals, consultations last an average of five minutes, compared to more than 20 minutes in the USA.

China’s healthcare sector is divided between several public hospitals, private hospitals, foreign hospitals and clinics, either through joint ventures or full ownership. China’s population resorts to the country’s large public hospitals, where they are available. The best services are usually associated with universities, such as Peking Uni­versity in Beijing or Fudan University in Shanghai.

Owing to the fact that public services are not enough to face the raised demands, more efforts have to be done in order to improve the private healthcare sector: doctors should be enticed to work in private settings and consumers should be able to trust doctors in private facilities.

The trust issue is related to doctors’ salary. In 2011, a survey, conducted by the China Medical Doctor’s Association, showed that the majority of the doctors were not satisfied with their salaries and working conditions. According to the survey’s data, doctors made an average of RMB 2,000 per month. That is the reason why many doctors have supplemented their low salaries with bribes from patients and kickbacks from pharmaceutical firms, overprescribing medications and treatments to generate income.

China’s healthcare privatization is still in the experimental phase. Two aspects must be highlighted: China should experiment nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities, where patients’ care can easily be administered by a nurse or other similarly certified professional in a different setting than a public hospital. Foreign owned hospitals or clinics could play an important role on the matter: the ideal arrangement would be the establishment of a referral system between the local public hospital and various categories of step-down care facilities.

The second aspect is referred to the ageing issue. The China National Committee on Aging said that, by 2053,  the number of China’s senior citizens is expected to grow to 487 million people, or 35% of the population, compared to just over 12% now. The adult children of aging parents are not practicing the traditional parental care methods anymore. Due to the fact that they are busy and employed, they are keen to spend money to solve the problem. According to Jim Moore, the founder of Moore Diversified Services Inc. (MDS), a US-based consultancy in senior care, foreign investment firms could entry in the Chinese field of senior housing and acute senior care facilities.


The gLAWcal Team
Monday, June 2, 2014

This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.