Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). This is the 29th briefing in the series "Embarking on the New Journey — A Government Perspective." Today's conference is about promoting high-quality development of health undertakings and protecting people's health. We have invited Mr. Lei Haichao, vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC); Mr. Wang Hesheng, vice minister of the NHC and administrator of the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration; Ms. Yu Yanhong, a member of the Leading Party Members Group of the NHC and commissioner of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine; and Ms. Wang Bin, director general of the General Office of the NHC. They will answer your questions.
Now, I'll give the floor to Mr. Lei for his introduction.
Friends from the media, good morning. I am delighted to share with you the updates on our health initiatives and report to those who hold our health projects in high regard. First, I would like to express my gratitude to all sectors of society and the media for your sustained interest in China's health endeavors, and the acknowledgment and support you have extended to us.
Health affects the happiness of every family and plays a significant role in shaping the future of our nation. General Secretary Xi Jinping has highlighted that health is an important indicator of socialist modernization. Since the beginning of this year, we have implemented Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). We have engaged in in-depth thematic education and transitioned into a regular COVID-19 response phase, applying prevention and control measures for Class B infectious diseases. We have fast-tracked the Healthy China Initiative, launched 49 regional medical center projects, begun the development of 81 integrated urban medical groups, and championed the high-quality development of public hospitals. Our efforts extended to the comprehensive establishment of closely-knit county-level medical communities. We have initiated a three-year campaign to improve medical services and patient experience, while actively advancing the development of the rural medical and healthcare service system. A total of 82.7% of public hospitals at the second tier and above now offer appointment-based medical services, and the per capita subsidy for basic public health has reached 89 yuan. We have seen marked enhancements in the accessibility, fairness and quality of our basic public health services. We remain committed to the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and are resolute in advancing the high-quality progression of the health and wellness sector. In doing so, we have considered the following aspects:
First, we aim to delve deeper into the Healthy China Initiative and the patriotic health campaign. Our goal is to mitigate the primary health risks faced by citizens. We advocate lifestyles centered around civility, health and eco-friendliness, while pushing forward the development of clean, health-focused cities. We have rolled out national nutrition strategies and encouraged balanced diets. We have also launched special initiatives focusing on the prevention and treatment of major chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Additionally, we have ramped up our approach to mental health care and occupational disease management, with the goal of drastically reducing and eventually eliminating the risks of major health threats.
Second, we have emphasized enhancing healthcare services at the grassroots level and have consistently deepened reforms in public hospitals with public welfare as our guiding principle. We have improved the tiered diagnosis and treatment system, ensuring that quality medical resources are distributed more equitably and expanded to grassroots and lower-tier medical facilities. We have been pushing forward with the construction of national medical centers and regional medical centers. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, there has been support for the establishment of no fewer than 750, 5,000 and 10,000 key clinical specialties at the national, provincial and city/county levels, respectively. We aim for medical facilities in cities with larger populations to reach the standards of Grade 3A hospitals. Across the nation, at least 1,000 county-level hospitals have been targeted to reach the standards of Grade 3 hospitals. Also, we have emphasized elevating 1,000 central township health centers to Grade 2 hospital standards. Building on these efforts, we have fostered a developmental framework that combines urban with rural settings, creating a cohesive bond between counties and villages. We have enhanced medical services and quality management, and have perfected a medical emergency system that balances routine and urgent care with rapid response capabilities. National-level emergency medical rescue teams have now been established in every province.
Third, we have built a robust public health shield to ensure the well-being of our citizens and support socio-economic growth. We have continued to manage the prevention and control of outbreaks such as COVID-19, influenza and mycoplasma pneumonia in children, and have continually strengthened the prevention and control of major infectious diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, as well as regional disease control efforts. We have systematically advanced the reform and high-quality development of the disease control system, enhancing professional capabilities in areas such as surveillance and early warning, emergency response, laboratory testing and epidemiological investigation. We have promoted the coordination and integration of medical and preventive care, and have essentially built a powerful public health system that meets the nation's public health needs.
Fourth, we will continue to improve health service provision for older people and children to promote high-quality population development. We will improve policies supporting childbirth and support the program of childcare services for the benefit of all. Additionally, we will strengthen daily health management and services for older people over the age of 65, especially those who have lost or are nearly losing their ability to take care of themselves. We will work to foster the development of national and regional centers for gerontology and geriatric hospitals, ensuring that the proportion of gerontology departments in Grade II general hospitals and above reaches over 60%. Moreover, we will implement the new action plan to guarantee maternal and infant safety, as well as the plan to safeguard children's health, aiming to achieve a screening rate of over 98% for genetically metabolic diseases in newborn babies.
Fifth, we will make greater efforts to promote the preservation and innovative development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), aiming to make these services more convenient and accessible. We will implement initiatives to revitalize and develop TCM and establish pilot zones to advance comprehensive TCM reforms. Additionally, we will also launch pilot programs to promote the preservation and innovation of TCM. Furthermore, we will launch major projects to promote TCM culture, and to train talents in both TCM and the integration of TCM and Western medicine.
Sixth, we will provide coordinated supportive services to promote the high-quality development of the health sector. We will uphold the leadership of the CPC in health-related work and strengthen the system in which hospital directors bear overall responsibility under the leadership of the Party Committee. We will also improve the legal system for safeguarding people's health and governance capacity. Moreover, we will improve the supervision and response system for biological security and fire safety. We will make greater efforts to improve medical science and technology research and innovation to meet demand and ensure practical application. We will promote reform in medical education and advance the training of medical talent, enhancing the training and staffing of medical personnel at the grassroots level. By doing so, we aim to establish a reliable medical team at the grassroots level. In addition, we will advance the Health Silk Road initiative and actively participate in international health governance.
That concludes my introduction. Next, my colleagues and I would be happy to answer your questions. Thank you.
The floor is now open for questions. Please identify the media outlet you represent before posing your questions.
Beijing Youth Daily:
China's medical and health service has witnessed progress in recent years, and public hospitals are playing a major role in offering such services. Going forward, what measures will be adopted to promote the high-quality development of public hospitals? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. The reform and high-quality development of public hospitals directly affect people's access to medical care services and their sense of gain as well.
Statistics show that approximately 5.11 billion medical visits were made to health institutions nationwide from January to September of this year. Specifically, there were 1.59 billion visits in the first quarter, 1.75 billion in the second quarter, and 1.77 billion in the third quarter. The data from the first three quarters show an increasing trend in the number of medical visits. The total number of medical visits made throughout the first three quarters increased by 12.4% compared with the same period in 2019, and it also experienced a 6% increase compared with the same period last year.
Regarding inpatient care services, some 220 million patients were discharged from medical and health institutions in the first three quarters of this year. Some 70 million patients were discharged from hospitals in the first quarter, while the number was 80 million in the second quarter. In the third quarter, some 70 million patients were discharged from hospitals. The number of discharges in the first three quarters increased by 16.7% compared with the same period in 2019, while it witnessed an increase of 18.9% from the same period in 2022.
The bed utilization rate in hospitals nationwide reached 80.2% in the first nine months of this year, marking an increase of 6.4 percentage points compared with the same period in 2022. The bed utilization rate at medical service centers reached 51.4%, which represents an increase of 7.6 percentage points from last year. Meanwhile, the rate at township-based health institutions was 54.9%, up by 4.8 percentage points compared with last year's level.
This data, when compared with the same period of last year or before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, clearly demonstrates that people's needs for medical services are being met more effectively. Additionally, medical and pharmaceutical services are being provided more efficiently. All these facts collectively reflect a strong performance at the macro level.
We will adhere to the new development philosophy and make concerted efforts to ensure reform and high-quality development.
First, we will fully implement a dean responsibility system under the leadership of the CPC Party committees and capitalize on the role of public hospitals' Party committees in controlling the direction, managing overall plans, making decisions, promoting reforms, and guaranteeing implementation.
Second, we will further expand high-quality medical resources toward the community level and promote their balanced distribution, as well as build a resilient and high-quality medical services system with complementary functions. We will expedite the building of national and regional medical centers and promote the distribution of medical resources and priority of our work toward the community level so that people have easier access to medical care services.
Third, we will advance the high-quality development of talents, technology, and disciplines, as well as management in public hospitals. Focusing on empowering specialist capacity, we will accelerate the transformation and utilization of medical scientific and technological innovations, promote the in-depth integration of medical services and management, and leverage information technologies to support and facilitate our efforts. By forming urban medical groups and closely connected county medical communities, as well as providing mobile medical services from tertiary and secondary hospitals and dispatching resident professionals, we will help primary-level medical and sanitary institutions improve service ability, quality, and management.
Fourth, we will work with relevant departments to deepen the price reforms of medical services, make dynamic adjustments to the prices of medical services, optimize medical institutions' balance of payments, and coordinate reforms regarding modes of payments, human resources, and remuneration systems. We will intensify performance assessments and comprehensive supervision to promote the high-quality development of medical institutions, especially public hospitals, in a bid to provide better services to our people. Thank you.
Hong Kong Bauhinia Magazine:
Building national demonstration zones for the comprehensive reform of TCM is a crucial measure for advancing innovative TCM inheritance and development. What progress and achievements have been made in exploring approaches to and accumulating experience for the construction of the demonstration zones? Thank you.
Thank you for your interest in the construction of demonstration zones. In December 2021, together with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the NHC, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the National Medical Products Administration, the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine approved the establishment of national demonstration zones for the comprehensive TCM reform in seven provincial-level regions of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Shandong, Hunan, Guangdong, and Sichuan. For more than a year, the development of demonstration zones has shown a sound momentum with strong moves taken across the board, breakthroughs achieved in many areas, and further progress made in the following four aspects.
First, organization and guidance have been enhanced, and TCM is now playing a more prominent role in facilitating overall economic and social development. All demonstration zones have established leading groups led by heads of provinces and municipalities. Concerted efforts have been made in the construction of demonstration zones, which have been included in Party congress reports, work priorities of commissions for further reform, and government work reports. Construction plans have been formulated, specifying reform tasks and creating blueprints.
Second, we have enhanced coordination to form synergy in pursuing the comprehensive TCM reform in a more systematic, holistic, and coordinated way. All departments have enhanced their support and guidance. Comprehensive reforms of demonstration zones have been coordinated as a whole. All provincial departments have enhanced coordination, made a series of specialized reform plans, and encouraged prefectures and cities to carry out pilot projects around various themes, thus making further changes through pilot efforts.
Third, we have made breakthroughs in key areas and links by upholding a problem-oriented approach and staying committed to reform and innovation. Shanghai has enhanced its TCM services in communities and established TCM departments in all community healthcare centers. Through digitalization reforms of TCM prescriptions, Zhejiang province has advanced the systematical reform of, and whole-process supervision over, clinical treatment, research, and services. Shandong and Hunan launched payment reforms based on curative effects for treating diseases for which TCM has demonstrated advantageous effects. The advantages of TCM hospitals have been enhanced, and average hospitalization costs have been significantly reduced. Jiangxi and Sichuan have intensified their efforts to form a standardization system, increasingly scaling up the cluster effect of TCM industry.
Fourth, demonstration zones have been more active in serving national strategies and facilitated higher-level regional coordinated development. All demonstration zones have proactively promoted high-quality TCM development to integrate into Belt and Road cooperation and constructed 13 overseas TCM centers and nine national-level international TCM cooperation bases. With a focus on building a "highland" for TCM in the Greater Bay Area, Guangdong has promoted joint contribution and sharing of TCM resources in the area. Coordinative efforts have been made to encourage TCM doctors in Hong Kong and Macao to work in mainland public medical institutions, streamline the mainland's registration and approval procedures for traditional TCM medicines that have already been sold in Hong Kong and Macao for external use, and promote preparations made in the Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine to be approved and used in Macao.
Next, we will focus on key problems concerning the preservation and innovative development of traditional Chinese medicine. We will take advantage of local resource endowment and unique strengths, further stimulate the initiative of reform and innovation, and deepen institutional and mechanistic reforms so as to promote the coordinated development of traditional Chinese medicine. Achievements and successful practices in reform will be proactively promoted and applied, benefiting more regions and more people.
Early detection, reporting, and treatment are important principles in response to new and sudden outbreaks of infectious diseases. What progress has been achieved in upgrading the monitoring system and direct online reporting system for infectious diseases? What achievements have been made in strengthening the capacity for major epidemic prevention, control, and emergency response? What measures will be taken next? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. Monitoring, early warning, and emergency response are all key factors in infectious disease prevention and control. We have developed a smart, multi-point triggered monitoring and early warning system, increasingly improving our capacity in major epidemic prevention, control, and emergency response. In terms of monitoring and early warning, we have focused our efforts on improving quality, expanding coverage, and strengthening effectiveness.
First, we have improved the quality of information reporting. We improved our online direct reporting system for infectious diseases and adjusted early warning indicators in order to detect, investigate, and deal with abnormal signals in time. We issued a list of responsibilities for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, launched pilot programs for establishing a disease-control supervisor system, and ensured that all those involved assumed their full responsibilities to report information on infectious diseases. Also, we promoted the development of an information platform for infectious diseases monitoring, early warning, and emergency command and realized step-by-step automatic data exchanges between medical institutions at or above the secondary level and the disease-control information system. By doing so, infectious disease monitoring has changed from a passive system to an initiative.
Second, we have created more channels for infectious disease monitoring. We established and improved monitoring systems targeting fever clinics, monitoring station hospitals, virus variants, and city sewage. We explored and carried out trials to monitor various acute respiratory infection pathogens and created a multi-channel monitoring system that covers both normal operation and emergency response, inbound and domestic cases, cities and the countryside, and the general public and key population groups.
Third, we have strengthened interdepartmental coordination. We promoted monitoring data and information sharing among departments and held regular interdepartmental consultation sessions to jointly conduct epidemic risk assessments.
In terms of emergency response, we have focused our efforts on establishing mechanisms, strengthening team-building, and enhancing capacity. To address new and sudden outbreaks of infectious diseases and major infectious diseases, we have continued to improve infectious disease emergency planning system and intensified emergency response exercises, bolstering our capacity to respond to emergencies and conduct epidemiological investigations. Also, we accelerated the building of national-level infectious disease emergency response teams. So far, 20 national teams have been established for the prevention and control of acute infectious disease emergencies. This year, the central government has provided greater fiscal support to build another five national teams as well as infectious disease emergency response units at the prefecture and county level all over the country.
We will further enhance interdepartmental coordination, collaboration between hospitals and institutions for disease prevention and control, and multi-channel connectivity. We will improve monitoring mechanisms and establish a multi-point triggered, responsive, authoritative, and highly effective infectious diseases monitoring and early warning system supported by national and provincial-level regional platforms for infectious disease monitoring, early warning, and emergency command, so as to enhance the country's capacity for infectious diseases emergency response. Thank you.
The Poster News APP:
The report to the 20th CPC National Congress said that by giving priority to prevention, we will strengthen the health management of major chronic diseases and enhance the capacity for disease prevention and treatment as well as health management at the community level. What are the priorities for enhancing the capacity for disease prevention and treatment as well as health management at the community level? What will you do to better meet the public's needs for community-level medical services? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. The guidelines for the Party's health work in the new era give high priority at the community level. Health work at the community level, as one of the basic public services, meets people's needs for basic medical and health services. The NHC has continued to improve the community-level medical and health care service system in urban and rural areas, and focused its efforts on the following areas:
First, we have improved infrastructure at community-level medical care institutions. By launching a campaign to provide quality medical care services at the community level and building community hospitals, we have guided community-level medical care institutions to shore up points of weakness and improve our health service capacity. Currently, more than 7,100 community-level medical care institutions meet the recommendation standards, accounting for 68% of those all over the country. More than 3,800 community hospitals have been built, giving great convenience to the public.
Second, we are focusing on rural areas and communities to strengthen our team of medical and health professionals. To better address people's needs, we are enhancing the recruitment of talents in general practice, rehabilitation, nursing, and other fields. We are also providing on-the-job training for personnel, aiming to improve medical workers' basic medical service capabilities and health management skills at the community level. We are organizing urban hospitals and retired doctors to support and assist communities. Additionally, we have implemented the "College Students Rural Doctor Special Program," which means that an increasing number of college students are able to serve the rural population. We are promoting the policy of exercising county-level management of medical professionals working at the township level as well as township-level recruitment of medical professionals working at the village level to enhance the attractiveness of community positions, allowing more outstanding medical professionals to stay and be effectively utilized at the community level. In 2023, over 5,000 college students have been recruited as rural doctors, and this number will continue to increase in the future. Furthermore, more than 4,800 medical students have completed standardized residency training for doctors free of charge under a program to train medical workers for rural areas and have entered positions at the township level.
Third, we are steadily promoting the high-quality development of family doctor contract services. We are promoting family doctor contract services for key populations, such as the elderly and individuals with disabilities, while also expanding the scope of these services. For example, we are encouraging specialists, in addition to general practitioners, and private medical institutions, alongside public ones, to provide services as a way of guiding multiple parties to participate in contract services through community-level healthcare institutions as platforms, and continuously enrich the content of services and optimize service delivery methods. As of the end of June this year, the coverage rate of contract services for key populations had exceeded 70%. Local authorities are also pushing for the expansion of contract services to a broader range of people based on their specific circumstances.
Fourth, we are continuously improving the level of equalization in basic public health services. The per capita fiscal subsidy for basic public health services has steadily increased in recent years, reaching 89 yuan per capita in 2023. We are gradually improving these services in light of the health needs of people. Data show that 89.88 million individuals aged 65 and above, 110 million hypertensive patients, and 37.63 million type 2 diabetes patients enjoyed basic public health management services in the first half of 2023. These figures represent increases of 40%, 3.3%, and 6.9%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2022.
China News Service:
People are also concerned about major infectious diseases, and I would like to ask about the specific major infectious diseases that currently affect the health of people. What achievements has our country made in containing major infectious diseases? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. The Party Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to the prevention and control of major infectious diseases. Currently, the major infectious diseases that impact the health of our people primarily include AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and parasitic diseases.
Currently, China has basically halted the transmission of HIV through blood transfusions and blood products. The transmission of the virus from mother to child and through injection drug use has been effectively controlled. The coverage rate of antiviral therapy has surpassed 90%, and the success rate of treatment has also exceeded 95%. Overall, AIDS in China is at a low prevalence level. The national tuberculosis prevention and control service system has been progressively strengthened, with new diagnostic technologies and tools being gradually promoted and applied nationwide. The incidence rate of tuberculosis has steadily declined, with a mortality rate of 2.1 per 100,000, comparable to that of developed countries. The success rate of patient treatment remains above 90%. Innovations continue in the prevention and control service model for viral hepatitis. Blood safety and infection prevention and control in hospitals have been comprehensively strengthened. A significant decrease has been seen in newly infected individuals and a continuous decline in the total number of infections. The capacity and level of hepatitis treatment have significantly improved. Patients with hepatitis B receiving standardized treatment can be clinically cured, while 95% of hepatitis C patients achieve successful treatment outcomes, further interrupting the transmission of the viruses. Control and elimination goals for some key parasitic diseases have been achieved. Currently, all 452 schistosomiasis-endemic counties in China have met the criteria for transmission interruption, with three-quarters of these counties reaching the elimination criteria. China has achieved its goal of eliminating malaria, receiving certification from the World Health Organization. This marks an important milestone in China's public health history and the global eradication of malaria.
Next, we will uphold the principle of prioritizing prevention, while integrating prevention and treatment. We will persistently enhance the prevention and control working mechanism led by the Party and the government and featuring coordination across various departments, mobilization of all sectors of society, and public participation. We will integrate and coordinate treatment and prevention, strengthen the foundation for the prevention of multiple diseases at the community level, and continually enhance the building of the major infectious disease prevention and control system. We will continue to optimize prevention and control strategies, innovate technical means for prevention and control, solidify and amplify the effectiveness of our prevention and control efforts, and further diminish the health threats posed by major infectious diseases. Thank you.
Southern Metropolis Daily:
Improving patient experience and satisfaction with medical services is the most direct and practical measure to protect people's health and enhance their well-being. What arrangements have the NHC made in this regard? And what are your plans going forward? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. Let me elaborate on this. The NHC places great significance on people's healthcare experience and improving the quality of medical services, and has continuously implemented action plans to improve medical services. Since this year in particular, we have launched a three-year initiative themed "improving patient experience and satisfaction with medical services" along with relevant theoretical study programs. The themed initiative covers hospitals at all levels and the vast number of urban and rural primary medical and health institutions, improving our medical services throughout the entire chain, all areas and procedures. Here, I will give you a brief introduction.
First, we have focused on the entire service process to make medical treatment more convenient and make people feel more comfortable. From the patients' perspective, we promoted the implementation of 20 measures in six aspects in a comprehensive manner before, during and after diagnosis. Our goal is to achieve significant progress in 20 aspects in the next three years, that is, by 2025. Statistics show that 82.7% of public hospitals at or above the level of grade two currently provide medical appointment services, and the average ratio of scheduled patients to the total daily visits at tertiary hospitals across the country has reached 49.2%. In the past, people were not accustomed to making appointments for medical treatment. However, in recent years, with the help of the media, the guidance of medical institutions and the active participation of the public, the proportion has increased to 49.2%. Of course, we still have a long way to go and need to make further improvements.
In addition, the time required for taking outpatient numbers, paying fees and printing reports, was shortened, and flexible time arrangements for outpatients to shorten waiting times were encouraged. We have noticed that in some big cities, such as Beijing, the situation whereby the number of doctors being overly scheduled on Monday and Friday mornings has been significantly improved by adjusting the number of doctors on duty in mornings and afternoons at outpatient clinics. Now, when patients visit some medical institutions in Beijing, they can see more expert doctors in the afternoon. On the one hand, this plays the role of shifting peak load in doctor arrangement. On the other hand, it also plays a role in relieving traffic congestion around large hospitals in cities. Most importantly, it helps save people's time spent queuing and improve efficiency. In addition, we rely on the healthcare consortiums to improve the continuity of medical services and strengthen post-diagnosis management and post-illness follow-up services.
Second, we meet diverse medical needs. More than 5,500 comprehensive hospitals at or above the level of grade two across the country have implemented the "one-stop" comprehensive service model. The multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment service model has been extended to more than 2,000 of these hospitals, which has been welcomed by the public. A total of 2,767 hospitals at or above the level of grade two have at least one new type of outpatient clinic, such as anesthesia, pain, pharmacy and health management, which means that the content and methods of outpatient services have been further improved and enriched.
Third, we have improved the accessibility and equal access to medical services and brought high-quality medical services to the people. We have set up 13 national medical centers of different categories and national regional medical centers for children, carried out 125 regional medical center projects, launched the development of compact urban medical groups in 81 cities, and the construction of county-level medical alliances in 827 counties. This year, we will also expand the development of county-level medical alliances to more provinces and counties to increase coverage. In addition, more than 2,700 internet hospitals have been established.
Fourth, we have taken measures to offer services that benefit and provide convenience to people at the community level, making it easier for them to access basic medical and health services close to home. Since the beginning of this year, we have developed and issued 10 specific measures for medical and health institutions at the community level to offer services that benefit and offer convenience to the public for the 2023-2025 period. Medical and health institutions nationwide are currently advancing the implementation of these measures. These mainly include facilitating outpatient appointments, especially ensuring that outpatient appointments for specialists at Grade II and Grade III hospitals are open and more accessible to people at the community level. Additionally, township clinics and community health service centers have arranged for physicians with intermediate or senior professional titles to be on duty in outpatient departments to solve more health problems at the community level. At the same time, urban community health service centers have extended outpatient service hours, which in some cities have been extended by one to three hours, allowing office workers to access medical care after work. Services for the registration and delivery of scarce medicines have also been provided. In addition, some township clinics and community health service centers offer convenient services such as weekend vaccination, enabling parents to bring their children to get promptly vaccinated in their spare time.
Fifth, we have focused our efforts on enhancing our capacity to serve people throughout the whole process of medical service improvement. Grade II and higher hospitals have established systems for healthcare social workers and volunteers. Increasingly, hospitals have improved patients' medical experiences by providing better dietary services, enhancing the quality of cleaning services, improving parking conditions for patients, and offering access to wireless networks and reading materials in public areas.
Next, we will swiftly compile the successful practices and experiences from various localities in enhancing medical services and apply them broadly, ensuring a better medical experience for the public and fostering more positive interactions between doctors and patients. Thank you.
Maternal and child health is the cornerstone of the health of all people and is conducive to improving the population's health overall. What arrangements will China make to enhance its maternal and child healthcare service system and advance the high-quality development of maternal and child health? Thank you.
Thank you for your attention to the work on the health of women and children. Since the launch of the 14th Five-Year Plan, we have focused on implementing the Law on Maternal and Infant Health Care, the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, and the China Program for the Development of Women and Children. We have consolidated and improved the service system, continued to optimize health services, and carried out a series of action plans for maternal and child safety, child health, and the development of TCM for maternal and child healthcare. Women and children are increasingly feeling the benefits, and their health continues to improve.
In 2022, China recorded a maternal mortality rate of 15.7 per 100,000, and the mortality rates for infants and children under 5 were 4.9 per thousand and 6.8 per thousand, respectively, all dropping to record lows and placing China at the forefront among middle- and high-income countries.
We will continue to ensure safety, solve difficulties, and promote development, and take effective measures to protect the health rights of women and children. We will give priority to the major health problems of women and children on the demand side, continue to optimize maternal and child health services, and consolidate and improve the system for safeguarding maternal and child safety, securing the bottom line of maternal and child safety. We will carry out a number of practical and effective special campaigns focusing on challenging issues such as myopia in children, obesity, birth defects, cervical cancer, and breast cancer, and improve the model of health services throughout the life cycle to advance the comprehensive development of maternal and child health.
We will also focus on enhancing the development of the maternal and child healthcare service system. We aim to advance the upgrading of the maternal and child healthcare service system, coordinate resources from multiple parties, address inadequacies, shore up weak points, and move faster to achieve the goal of ensuring at least one standard government-funded maternal and child healthcare institution in each administrative region at provincial, prefectural, and county level. We will improve the system for treating pregnant, delivery and postpartum women and newborns with severe or critical conditions, optimize the birth defects prevention and control network, advance the application of telemedicine platforms for maternal and child healthcare, and make quality medical resources more accessible at the community level to better safeguard maternal and child health. Thank you.
Red Star News:
In 2022, China recorded 9.56 million newborns, of which 38.9% were second children and 15% were third children or children after third. In recent years, there has been considerable attention paid to supporting measures for childbirth. What specific arrangements has the NHC made? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. The CPC Central Committee has attached great significance to the population work. The 20th Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs held its first meeting in May and proposed to advance Chinese modernization with the high-quality development of the population and improve the relevant policy system to provide better services for births. As the leading departments of this work, the NHC and NDRC have strengthened coordination among departments and enhanced research on the relevant policy system, with a focus on tackling difficulties and obstacles in providing supporting measures for births. We have also advanced the "Maternal and Children's Health" project, strengthened the five systems for maternal and child safety, safeguarded the health rights and interests of women and children, and improved services for sound childrearing. We have coordinated with relevant departments to roll out a series of supporting policies in such areas as education, taxation, housing, employment, and medical care. Many places across China have actively tried new methods. Some provinces, cities, and counties have introduced policies to offer subsidies for child care and housing, operation subsidies for childcare institutions, and social security subsidies for employers. This work has progressed smoothly.
We will work closely with relevant departments to link the high-quality development of the population with the high-quality life of the people. We will continue to support the development of childcare service institutions and model cities of sound infant care services. We will also promote the evaluation of employers that provide sound childcare services, encourage secondary and higher vocational schools and higher vocational colleges to offer infant care-related majors, and involve medical institutions in supporting childcare services. Moreover, we will improve the relevant policies, standards and regulations, and increase the service supply for childcare services to further enhance population-related policies. Thank you.
Phoenix Satellite Television:
As we know, TCM is deeply rooted in local communities and among the public. What new measures have been taken to expand TCM services at the community level? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. The National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine has always prioritized improving TCM services at the community level, adhered to addressing weak links and strengthening its foundation, and strived to offer people convenient and doorstep TCM services. To date, China has established a TCM service system covering provinces, cities, counties, and townships, better meeting the needs of urban and rural residents for relevant services.
First, we have accelerated the building of a community-level TCM services network, promoted the full coverage of county-level TCM medical institutions, expanded the coverage of TCM centers in all community health service centers and medical centers in townships, and supported the setting up of TCM cabinets in community health service centers and village clinics where conditions permit. As of the end of 2022, the coverage rate of county-level TCM medical institutions had reached 87.78%, and a total of 40,674 TCM medical centers had been established across the country, giving 99.5% of community health services centers and 99.4% of township-level medical centers access to TCM services.
Second, we have intensified our efforts to nurture TCM talents at the community level. To implement the talent training plan, we have applied the policy of free training of compulsory rural service-oriented students, strengthened personnel training in TCM centers, and advanced relevant programs such as the building of a workshop team for renowned and experienced TCM doctors at the community level to make TCM services more accessible. To date, the number of TCM practitioners (assistants) in primary-level medical and health institutions stands at 205,000, accounting for 19.65% of the total across China.
Third, we have focused on enriching the content of TCM. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), we planned to support all county-level TCM hospitals to build two priority specialties with TCM characteristics and one county-level promotion center for TCM-appropriate technologies. To date, we have completed the construction work of 593 county-level TCM hospitals. We have guided the standardized implementation of more than 10 TCM-appropriate technologies in six categories in TCM centers, and more than six TCM-appropriate technologies in four categories in TCM cabinets. We have also launched a health information platform for TCM centers, employing advanced technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence to provide auxiliary diagnoses for medical workers to improve service capacity.
For the next step, we will work with relevant departments to take the implementation of the major project for the revitalization and development of TCM as a starting point. We will advance the action plan for the project to improve TCM services at the community level during the14th Five-Year Plan period, expand the effective supply of TCM talents at the community level, promote pairing-up assistance programs between urban and rural areas in TCM services, improve the standardization of TCM services at the community level, and continue to make TCM services more accessible, fairer, and convenient. Thank you.
China Youth Daily:
Vaccination is the most economical and effective way to prevent infectious diseases. Could you please provide an update on the progress of China's national immunization program, and what are the future plans? Thank you.
Thanks for your questions. The immunization program plays an important role in China's disease prevention and control efforts, demonstrating significant effectiveness and wide-ranging influence. The vaccination coverage rate among eligible children under the national immunization program remains above 90%, and the incidence of various infectious diseases has been reduced to historically low levels thanks to the availability of vaccines. We have thoroughly implemented the Vaccine Administration Law, continuously improved policies under the national immunization program, stepped up our efforts to establish a robust vaccination service system, and ensured the sound, standardized, and orderly progress of the program.
With the central government allocating over 30 billion yuan annually for this purpose, the range of vaccines provided free of charge to residents under the national immunization program has expanded to cover 14 vaccines against 15 diseases. Many provinces are diversifying the vaccines included in the program in light of local needs. In addition, some regions offer free flu vaccines to specific groups such as the elderly and young children. Currently, a comprehensive immunization monitoring and regulation system has been established at the national, provincial, city, and county levels, as well as a vaccination service network at the county, township, and village levels. This has forged alignment between the national and provincial vaccination program information systems, as well as between provincial information systems and the national platform for coordinated vaccine tracing, which has further upgraded the quality and efficiency of vaccination efforts.
We will continue to reinforce the standardized management of vaccination and leverage information technology to promote cross-regional data connectivity and sharing. We will also pilot the launch of online vaccination certificates, aiming to ensure "data travels more and people travel less" to enhance the accessibility and convenience of vaccination services. Thank you.
During the 14th Five-year Plan period (2021-2025), what are the specific measures to consolidate and improve the national system of essential medicines, enhance national medicine policies, and promote the high-quality development of medicine supplies? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, we continue to refine the medicine policy system and advance the high-quality development of medicine supplies. For instance, we have realized effective coordination and integrated development in various fields, such as encouraging drug research and development and innovation, ensuring production and supply, and promoting rational drug use.
First, we have comprehensively improved the national essential medicines system. We have revised and refined the catalog management methods, optimized the selection and adjustment procedures, and dynamically updated the National Essential Medicines List. Through institutional support for these adjustments, we have emphasized the leading role of essential medicines, consistently improved the supply and quality of essential drugs, and facilitated their prioritized provision and use.
Second, we have improved the mechanism for ensuring the availability and stable pricing of medicines in short supply. To meet the public's urgent medication needs, we have utilized the national-provincial synergy mechanism, strengthened coordinated monitoring, comprehensive analysis, and tiered responses to drugs in short supply, and improved interdepartmental coordination.
Third, we have refined the mechanism for ensuring the supply of pediatric and generic medicines. Considering their clinical value and demand, we have updated the List of Encouraged Pediatric Medicines for R&D and Declaration, with fourth batches of such medicines already released. Medications on this list receive priority in evaluation and approval. Simultaneously, we have formulated the Catalogue of Encouraged Generic Medicines, aiming to incentivize enterprises to engage in research and production of these drugs. This is achieved through increased scientific research support, prioritized assessment and approval, and expedited licensing for reimbursement under the basic medical insurance scheme.
Furthermore, we have continually improved pharmaceutical services in medical institutions and intensified national and provincial monitoring of drug use. We have enhanced the mechanism for comprehensive clinical drug evaluation, and the application of technical standards. We have further strengthened analysis, monitoring, and the application of evaluation results. By taking these extensive measures, we have further updated the national system of essential medicines.
Xinhua News Agency:
Carrying out patriotic health campaigns in the new era and furthering the Healthy China Initiative are two important approaches to promoting healthy lifestyles and building a healthy China. How will you coordinate the work in these two fields? Thank you.
Thank you, I will answer your question. Rolling out the patriotic health campaigns is a great innovation and successful practice of the Party in which the mass line is effectively applied in healthcare and disease prevention. The campaigns have actively improved people's living environments, health awareness and health condition. We will continue to carry out the campaigns, using our advantages in management capacity and the ability to mobilize people, and drawing lessons and inspirations from past practices. The patriotic health campaigns have been carried out for more than 70 years, and have always played a very important, positive role despite the changing times. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the campaigns, in conjunction with the Healthy China Initiative, made remarkable contributions to mobilizing and organizing the public to engage in epidemic prevention and control. Going forward, we plan to proceed from the following aspects:
First, we will make comprehensive efforts to transform the living environment in urban and rural areas. We will improve environmental hygiene in urban and rural areas through intensive efforts. The focus will be on farm produce markets and small restaurants, as well as old residential areas, urban villages, urban-rural fringe areas, and back alleys. We also plan to step up efforts to improve public sanitary facilities. Yunnan province has set a good example in this regard. After the epidemic broke out, Yunnan installed washbasins in popular public places across the province, such as tourist sites, so that visitors could wash their hands more often. Such amenities have been helpful even in small remote towns. This is a good practice combined with the patriotic health campaigns.
Second, we will promote healthy lifestyles and further improve the public's health awareness. We will expand efforts to build public's health knowledge. We will promote healthy lifestyles that call on people to follow sensible diets, do exercise, quit smoking, limit drinking, and maintain a balanced mind. We will also help people improve their abilities and knowledge regarding maintaining their health.
Third, we will explore new methods of social health management and step up the building of a healthy China. The standards and procedures for the selection of national healthy cities and towns will be optimized, along with a long-term dynamic management mechanism. The selection results of healthy cities and healthy towns can be revised after periodic review and reexamination, with underperformers being disqualified. The work related to fostering national healthy cities and towns will be enhanced to achieve sound development. Villagers committees and residents committees will make more efforts to build public health committees. So far, after two years of efforts, more than 90% of villagers committees and residents committees nationwide have set up their own public health committees, with even distribution across different provinces and regions. We will form a comprehensive system to continue to create a healthy China, healthy families, healthy campuses, healthy communities, healthy townships, healthy counties and healthy cities. As we proceed with this work, we aim to fully integrate the pursuit of good health into our policies, which is crucial to implementing the Party's strategy for promoting medical care and health in the new era.
Fourth, we will innovate our work methods and encourage public participation. The general public are the main force in furthering the patriotic health campaigns and building a healthy China. We will improve legal guarantees, public education, organization, mobilization, policy research and technical support, implement the patriotic healthy campaigns in a more scientific, systematic and thorough manner, and increase public participation to better conduct our work. Thank you.
Thank you to all speakers and friends from the media. Today's press conference is hereby concluded. Goodbye.