The financing and organization of health services in poor rural China: a case study in Donglan County.
The socio-economic reforms launched in China in the late 1970s led to rapid economic growth and, with it, health sector resources expanded rapidly. The rural health services have benefited from the policies of economic reform, but not in an optimal way, particularly in poor areas. This article uses a case study of a poor county--Donglan--to illustrate that the fiscal decentralization combined with the financial responsibility system have resulted in a weakening of financing and provision of rural health services in poor areas. The need for health facilities to generate revenue has had unfortunate consequences for the style of medical care, such as over-prescription. In addition, the collapse of the cooperative medical system and the weakening of the three-tier network of rural health care in Donglan have jeopardized preventive programs and threaten access to basic health care for the peasants, especially the poor. The study found evidence that preventive programs have deteriorated over the past years, the poor had financial difficulty in access to services, particularly hospital care, health facilities at township and village levels have been run down, and less training and supervision have been provided by upper-level health facilities. The article concludes with recommendations for a strategy for rebuilding and strengthening the three-tier network of rural health care, and for establishing a cooperative medical and health care scheme to ensure that the majority of peasants in Donglan can be guaranteed access to basic health services. Limited health resources will therefore be better used.
Gu, XY; Tang, SL; Cao, SH
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