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Health within reach

Updated: Oct 21, 2021 China Daily Global Print
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Local communities benefit from latest investments in convenient, high-tech medical services

Several times a week, Yang Jinbao, 78, takes a brief stroll from her home to see her family physician.

"We keep track of her condition carefully," physician Zhang Liqiang said. "She has high blood pressure, and that can actually go up after a 20-minute walk, so it's really good that she's close by."

Zhang is a doctor at the "intelligent health center" in Yaozhuang township of Jiashan county in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.

The center is a community medical facility where visiting hospital doctors such as Zhang attend to patients. Yang and others in the community have access to state-of-the-art healthcare equipment and services, including digital diagnostic systems, artificial intelligence robotic assistants, integrated biometric medical records and prescription delivery networks. Residents can also participate in tai chi and other wellness programs and activities.

"I check in as much as I can. I also get advice on my dietary needs and lifestyle in general," Yang said.

Wang Lijun, deputy head of Yaozhuang township, said, "This intelligent facility, which covers the 20,000 residents of the local community, is a one-stop center for health services and acts as our first line of defense, because good health starts with daily, healthy living and disease prevention."

The center is a building block of Jiashan county's major medical development drive, bringing together advanced health capabilities to form an urban-rural loop of prevention and treatment services. This is in line with the nation's "Healthy China 2030 Initiative", which aims to boost public health services and related sectors over the next decade.

The city of Jiaxing is already at the forefront of implementing a wide range of measures to foster common prosperity in the next crucial stages of the country's inclusive development.

In August, a meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs outlined steps to promote common prosperity via high-quality growth, using a phased approach to reach the target.

Zhejiang, one of China's most-developed provinces, has been designated a demonstration zone to explore a new path for common prosperity and to show how the country can tackle unbalanced and inadequate development.

The province has a target of achieving common prosperity by 2035, with its per capita gross domestic product and the income and standard of living of urban and rural residents reaching those of developed countries.

Healthcare and medical services form an integral part of the drive for common prosperity. In Jiashan, a two-year effort to integrate and share rural-urban capabilities now includes at least five county-level hospitals and more than 100 community health service centers and stations.

The latest investments in the medical sector include more than 3 billion yuan ($470 million) for hospitals as well as women's and children's facilities, disease control and prevention centers and blood stations, and nearly 40 million yuan annually for medical subsidies and incentives, equipment upgrades and grassroots programs, according to county authorities.

Digital progress

Digitalization is a significant part of Jiashan's medical services push under the Healthy China 2030 plan. According to the county government, at least 18 major projects totaling 10 billion yuan have been rolled out for "full use of digital means to improve the level of medical and health services by digital empowerment, and enhance the experience of and access to medical treatment by intelligent means".

Wu Xuan, head of Jiashan's health bureau, said the county is comprehensively investing in medical care, with an emphasis on the prevention of chronic illnesses in rural communities.

"Our residents may find it difficult to access the advanced healthcare in nearby big cities, so we are fully tapping high-tech, digital platforms to narrow the gap," Wu said.

"We're using big data to keep track of the health trends among residents, reporting their ailments, treatments and progress. We're building the facilities and networks to bridge medical services in the cities and villages."

Biodata and information on villagers' health and medical needs are stored on digital platforms and easily accessed, including via smartphone apps. This allows healthcare professionals to coordinate diagnosis and treatment through virtual networks assisted by AI speech recognition and other high-tech channels, Wu said. This effectively overcomes physical and geographical barriers for medical services, he added.

Smartphone apps help residents "pick a suitable doctor to consult", and they can check their healthcare profiles after online consultations, Wu said. "We can say that the residents have a 24-hour health manager."

Jiashan has set up health profiles for about 540,000 people, including residents and people from other areas, giving the county a health profile rate of nearly 92 percent, Wu said.

Bureau deputy head Chen Yuefeng said the county is focusing on medical "hardware and software" for inclusive growth.

"Health is wealth. We attract doctors and other specialists to spend time in the community hospitals and centers, reaching out to the grassroots," Chen said.

Recognizing the importance of drawing medical professionals and other talent to its facilities, the county offers work, training and research incentives and programs, including individual subsidies of up to 1.58 million yuan. More than 30 high-level healthcare specialists have headed to Jiashan since last year, an increase of more than 30 percent year-on-year.

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