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A national essential health services package

Date: Tuesday 30 October 15.45–17.15
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Wu Jing, Researcher, Center for Health Statistics and Information, Ministry of Health, People's Republic of China
with Keqin Rao and Wenxiu Yang


This research aims to define and to cost a package of essential health services that is appropriate for the current social and economic situation, and to establish a sustainable mechanism that enables the package to be enlarged along with economic development. By doing this, we hope to support the development of an efficient, equitable and high quality health system in China.

We will define a comprehensive package of essential health services, from which services can be selected as prioritized. A national package that will be funded by the central government shall include most public health interventions and some treatments for severe infectious diseases. Local government should extend the national package in consideration of local situations, with financial support from the central government. A case study in Tianjin shall serve as an example for the local essential health service package.

It is estimated that 161.5 billion yuan (5.1% of the government revenue) will be needed to cover all the essential health services in the package. Of which, 21.7 billion yuan (less than 20 yuan per capita) might be sufficient to cover all the special institutions that provide public health services for the whole population. Extending the contents of the package further will take the capacity and willingness of the government, and the cost of interventions, into account.

The contents of the package, as defined by this study, are intended to cover those interventions that are most important to the health of poor people. So, equitable access to health services should be improved by the implementation of the package. Significant additional work is required in order to ensure the implementation of a feasible package and to sustain its development. In time, a set of policies and measures will be recommended, such as a referral system, supervision and evaluation of the service quality, sustainable financing and the adjustment of the contents and level of the package.