Despite achievements in reducing poverty, China must do more to help families cope with financial hardship caused by health issues, a senior official said.
Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, made the remark on Monday at a national conference on poverty relief and health in Chengdu, Sichuan province.
In 2017, as many as 41.7 percent of poverty-stricken people nationwide were in financial difficulties due to poor health. More than 70 percent of the poor in Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces were struggling due to various diseases, he said.
Deputies reached a consensus that more medical aid is a must to reach the goal of lifting 30 million people out of poverty over the next three years.
There will be targeted aid for financially distressed people diagnosed with chronic and major diseases, according to Ma Xiaowei, head of the National Health Commission.
This year, 20 major diseases including cervical, breast and lung cancer as well as pneumoconiosis — or occupational lung disease — will be included in medical aid programs. The country aims to include 30 major diseases in medical aid packages by 2020, Ma said.
Family doctors will sign contracts with the rural poor, with trained medics monitoring the population and providing standard services for those with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and tuberculosis, he said.
To calculate the number of rural poor citizens suffering from chronic illnesses, more than 800,000 grassroots health and poverty alleviation workers have been sent on introductory and exploratory house calls.
Nearly 95 percent of the 8.49 million rural poor with chronic or major diseases had either been treated in hospital, or signed contracts with family doctors by the end of 2017, according to the National Health Commission.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the CPC Central Committee has attached great importance to poverty alleviation. Xi has visited impoverished areas more than 40 times, Liu said.
The number of rural poor has declined from 98.99 million to 30.46 million over the past five years.