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Asia Economy Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 - 12:01 PM

As China gets wealthier, it’s "determined to get healthier"
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 9, 2014 - 12:23 AM

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Xi Jinping (r), Chinese president, met with Jim Yong Kim, World Bank president, in Beijing on Tuesday July 08, 2014.

The World Bank said on Tuesday that as China gets wealthier, it’s also determined to get healthier. The health sector is growing faster than the general economy.

"How this growth is managed will have a tremendous impact on China's economy," Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president, told a press conference in Beijing, Tuesday.

The Bank said it will do a study in collaboration with the ministry of finance and the National Health and Family Planning Commission together with the World Health Organization that will help China accelerate its efforts to provide affordable, quality care especially for its ageing population and rising middle class facing chronic diseases.

Kim said that with urbanization, longer life expectancy, a more sedentary lifestyle, air pollution and more processed food, people are more prone to various diseases, especially diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases.

These chronic conditions now account for a staggering 80% of the overall disease burden in the country. More than 200m patients suffer from hypertension and more than 90m from diabetes.

The World Bank president said:

Many of the challenges facing China today are similar to those faced by high income countries for decades – non-communicable diseases, aging, rising citizen demand and expectations, and unsatisfactory quality. China has an opportunity to leap frog decades of bad practice by developing new models of health care delivery and implementing them at scale.

In particular, China can move to a people-centered approach providing more health care for the money while tapping emerging information, communication, and medical technologies.

My discussions this morning with the vice ministers from both ministries,  Margaret Chan, WHO director-general and others, mark the start of our search for bold, sustainable options for health sector reforms, including in the private sector.

Our study will draw on the best global knowledge and Chinese experience, to offer practical solutions to help China strengthen its performance in health service delivery, at the lowest possible cost, while improving the health of all its citizens.

If China is as successful in this process as we think they can be, we believe its health care reform can become a model for many other countries.

This will not only benefit China’s 1.3bn people. The entire world will benefit."

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