BEIJING — More than four years on, what 75-year-old Wei Dingyu, a villager in Shiye township, Zhenjiang city of East China's Jiangsu province, felt about a handshake with Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, goes far beyond the warmth of Xi's palms.
"It was cold. I originally reached out with only one hand, with the other in my pocket. The general secretary, however, held my hand with both of his hands. So I quickly reached out with the other hand," Wei said, recalling the December 2014 visit Xi paid to the Shiye Township Clinic to learn about the rural area-based healthcare services.
During the winter afternoon stop there, Xi shook hands and chatted with Wei, who was seeking treatment at the clinic. "In addition to asking about our health, the general secretary also cared about whether the rural area-based medical services are accessible, affordable and satisfactory," Wei said.
"Prosperity for all is impossible without health for all," Xi said.
Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core has made major decisions and plans to advance the building of a "Healthy China," from issuing the "Healthy China 2030" blueprint in 2016 to the promulgation of an action plan in July this year for implementing the Healthy China initiative from 2019 to 2030. In addition, there is a focus on solving problems regarding the accessibility and affordability of medical services and striving to ensure people's access to medical services.
With all that, a new picture of a "Healthy China" is being drawn up step by step.
IMPROVED ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
People's access to medical services remains a deep concern of Xi.
Xi stressed the need to improve community-level healthcare services, promote equitable access to basic public services in urban and rural areas and provide safe, effective, convenient and affordable public health and basic healthcare services for the people.
Residents at Shiye, a hard-to-reach tiny island surrounded by the Yangtze River waters, used to be afraid of not only getting sick but also traveling out of the island because of poor traffic links with the outside.
Great changes have taken place here following Xi's 2014 inspection tour in the township. Now, people do not need to leave to seek treatment for minor diseases.
The past several years have seen the establishment of five joint departments, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus, by the Shiye Township Clinic and a Zhenjiang city-based healthcare services group. The clinic now has color ultrasound and automatic biochemical analysis equipment in addition to general departments.
"At the township clinic, people now can enjoy medical services offered by Zhenjiang city-based hospitals," Wei said. Wei had an X-ray recently at the clinic for his knee pain, of which the image was sent online to the Zhenjiang First People's Hospital before the diagnosis results were sent back in minutes. "You could hardly imagine this in the past," Wei said.
In Zhenjiang, community-level clinics and the city's prestigious hospitals have set up joint medical treatment mechanisms, allowing more people to access quality basic healthcare services near their homes.
What Wei experienced at the Shiye Township Clinic served as an embodiment of the improvement in the primary-level medical services network covering both the urban and rural areas of China.
STOPPING ILLNESS-CAUSED POVERTY
Located in the deep Lyuliang Mountains of Shanxi province, Kelan county is known for steep roads and barren farmland.
Wang Sannyu, a widow in her 60s, lives in Zhaojiawa village located in the impoverished county with her two grandchildren with disabilities.
She developed rheumatic heart disease and hypertension at an early age, which over the years have led to chronic bronchitis. The poor family's living conditions got worse when her husband and son died a few years ago and her daughter-in-law left.
On the afternoon of June 21, 2017, Xi walked into their home, gave Wang words of comfort and urged local officials to arrange special education for her grandchildren.
Tackling poverty caused by illness and the reoccurrence of poverty because of illness are objectives Xi has repeatedly stressed.
After the Kelan inspection tour, Xi presided over a seminar on eliminating poverty in severely impoverished areas in Taiyuan, the provincial capital of Shanxi, where he called for more medical assistance, temporary relief and charitable aid for people living in poverty caused by sickness.
Now, under a full village relocation program, Wang's family has moved into a new building, and family doctors are regularly visiting and delivering medicine to the door.
Last year, Wang was hospitalized twice with a total cost of 8,914.3 yuan ($1,271), but she only had to pay 525.77 yuan herself.
Currently, people living in poverty could have over 90 percent of their hospital medical cost reimbursed under a package of insurance and aid policies, according to Kelan's healthcare security authority.
The package is a major livelihood project introduced in the province to alleviate poverty caused by illness after Xi's inspection in 2017, which contains arrangements including basic medical insurance, serious disease insurance and supplementary medical insurance reimbursement.
By the end of 2018, Wang's family had successfully shaken off poverty. "It is our greatest blessing to live in this great era," said Wang, adding that she will always remember the warmth brought by Xi's visit to her home.
DRUG SAFETY GUARANTEED
Four years ago, Xi made the request for "safe and reliable" medicine when inspecting a subordinate company of the Jilin Aodong Pharmaceutical Group, which is located in the Korean autonomous prefecture of Yanbian, Northeast China's Jilin province.
"Over the past four years, Xi's words have become a motto which we keep in mind all the time," said You Haitao, the subordinate company's vice-general manager in charge of production.
"The responsibility weighs heavier than mountains," You said while standing in the workshop where Xi visited, repeating what Xi had said. "All pharmaceutical companies should earnestly play their roles to fulfill social responsibilities and ensure that every kind of medicine and every single tablet are safe and reliable."
Embedding these remarks in heart is not only because Xi said it, but You also understands that the pills are linked to the safety of the people and cannot bear even slightest carelessness.
In recent years, China has called off import tariffs on anticancer drugs, accelerated the examining and approving process for new drugs and built an all-process drug tracing system. All these efforts have shown the country's dedication to guarantee the safety and reliability in every step of medicine production, sales and use.
Thanks to these favorable policies, more patients are expected to be able to use reliable medicines at lower prices.
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