Transition from infectious diseases to rise of chronic diseases, with more than 2.2 Million new cases of cancer annually, and 1 in 5 adults suffering from cardiovascular disease
Home to a population of 1.3 billion people, China is now the world’s largest economy after the US. China’s healthcare and disease profiles are undergoing significant changes spurred by rapid economic, social and demographic developments over the last three decades.
With a large population base, a growing middle class and a widespread aging, China is now facing a transition towards combating rapid rise in chronic diseases while still addressing high profile infectious diseases. There is now greater attention to address growing incidence of chronic diseases that can cause significant economic burden. For instance, China has more than 2.2 million new cases of cancer diagnosed annually.
The prevalence of cardiovascular disorders illustrates the magnitude of the impending challenge in China. It is estimated that there are 230 Million patients with cardiovascular disease, of which 200 million are affiliated with hypertension, with more than 7 million with stroke, 2 million with myocardial infarction, 6 million with heart failure, 2.5 million with rheumatic heart disease and 2 million with congenital heart disease. Basically one in every 5 adults in China suffer from cardiovascular disease. About 3 million Chinese die of cardiovascular disease annually, which accounts for 41% of all deaths in China and is the leading cause of death.
The control of infectious diseases prevalence associated with the large rural population is still a focus in the country, especially with increasing disparity in terms of economics, social as well as healthcare offerings between rural and urban China. While the incidences of infectious diseases are decreasing, diseases such as malaria, gonorrhoea and syphilis are common and there are still more than 991,350 new cases of tuberculosis and 252,248 cases of dysentery annually.
These pressures have contributed to the healthcare reform that was announced in 2009, which was initiated to provide accessible and affordable care to all Chinese citizens by 2020. There are five key elements of reform, namely:
- Expand the basic medical insurance programs to cover both urban and rural population
- Establish a national essential drug system to be initially implemented in community health centers and county hospitals
- Strengthen the primary health infrastructure in rural and urban areas
- Improve public health services and guaranteeing access to those services.
- Reform public hospitals.
Healthcare reform is now being implemented across China, but with varied levels of results due to availability of funding from local government as well as local implementation of national reform guidelines.
Tej Deol, M.D.