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HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, China
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Guangzhou is China's top city for healthcare

Centralization of healthcare services resulting in various problems.

Guangzhou, China’s third most populous city after Beijing and Shanghai, has emerged as the country’s top city for healthcare, beating 27 other cities surveyed in PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) latest Chinese Cities of Opportunity report.

The report, part of a series by PwC on global urban development, focuses on a set of indicators reflecting current urban development conditions. The healthcare, safety, and public security cluster focused on five variables—healthcare resources, medical facilities, elderly care services, urban traffic safety, and disaster loss.

Guangzhou had the highest number of medical facilities with 20 third-level A-grade facilities, and scored near the top of every other variable except for urban traffic safety. Rounding off the five highest-ranking cities are Chengdu and Wuhan (tied), Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Taiyuan.

Most top-performing cities are provincial capitals, highlighting the fact that China’s medical resources are concentrated in provincial capital cities and that healthcare management in big cities tends to be of higher quality than the rest of the country.

This “excessive centralization” in healthcare facilities has resulted to several problems, according to Dr. Qiu Yulin, professor and PhD Supervisor at the School of Labour Relations and Human Resources in Renmin University of China.

“The Chinese have developed a blind faith in big hospitals, increasingly seeking treatment for both major and minor illnesses at big hospitals, which has resulted in overcrowding, significant difficulties registering for doctor appointments, and high medical costs,” said Qiu.

Qiu said that medical research show only 20 percent of human diseases require treatment in big hospitals, while the rest can already be treated in community hospital or clinics. The solution, she said, is to curb the severe shortage of general practitioners (GPs) in Chinese cities. Statistics from the National Health and Family Planning Commission show that there were only 18,900 qualified GPs in China, or 6.6% of the total number of medical practitioners—way below the State Council’s goal of “2-3 qualified GPs for every 10,000 urban and rural residents.”

Qiu also said that improving utilization of primary medical services should be a key priority in promoting the family doctor system, and that the quality and quantity of primary medical care should be optimized through competition, patient referrals, and qualification schemes.

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