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[Xinhua News Agency] Xiong’An International Health Forum: How to Solve Shortage of Healthcare Services and How Far Away Is Lifelong Health Services?

2018/11/30

Xiong’An New Area vows to become a “healthy city” which seeks harmony between urban development and lifelong healthy living, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may provide lifelong healthcare, and research and development (R&D) of original drugs remains the key driver for the health industry–--these are among the messages conveyed at the recently concluded Xiong’An International Health Forum. In this forum held under the approval of the People’s Government of Hebei Province, Chinese and foreign experts, policy-makers and entrepreneurs discuss topics ranging from urban development to TCM and drug R&D, in order to alleviate the present shortage of health services, thereby achieving the sustainable development of human health.

Urban and Rural Development: Health Services for All

Currently, the health and medical sector is still in the process of reform under the global reality of continued disparity between supply and demand of health services.

Michael Møller, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, says: the WHO has warned that it would be impossible to achieve the health goals set in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the current speed, such as child and maternal mortality, family planning, universal health coverage and ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Countries around the world must change their working methods, remove the barriers between central and local governments and between different sectors and industries, and minimize the urban-rural gap, so that no one will be left behind.

Xiong’An New Area has integrated health sector goals throughout its planning and building process. In particular, it has signed a cooperative framework agreement with the Health and Family Planning Commissions of Beijing and Hebei Province to promote the development of the local healthcare sector. And its Xuanwu Hospital Program supported by Beijing is currently going through the paper works for the construction.

“Xiong’An New Area is committed to promoting both city development and healthy living, and will make and implement city plans towards becoming a model city under the Healthy China Strategy,” says CHEN Gang, Member of the Standing Committee of Hebei Provincial Party Committee, Deputy Governor, Secretary General of the CPC Working Committee of Xiong’An New Area and Director General of the Administrative Committee of Xiong’An New Area. CHEN also notes that the New Area will establish a smart health management system which will provide better medical services through remote diagnosis and treatment.

Based on its strategic positioning and its urban-rural planning of “one city one water body, five clusters and multiple attractions,” Xiong’An New Area is accelerating the development of its emergency aid, pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics sectors and establishing a world-class, domestically leading public health service system and medical institutions including a regional health emergency responding system. Specifically, the New Area will build a 15-minute primary care network and an intelligent health management center powered by big data.

“In the future, all residents in the New Area will have their personal lifelong health data accounts, and an around-clock personal health intervention will become normal”, says FU Shouqing, Member of the Party Working Committee of Xiong’An New Area and Deputy Director General of the Administrative Committee of Xiong’An New Area.

TCM: from Treatment-Centered to Health-Centered Approach

At present, China’s TCM sector is re-invigorated by a wave of new business models and emerging healthcare services combining elder care with tourism.

“Each of us is responsible for finding sustainable solutions for healthy living and needs to expand their access to health services,” Michael Møller says.

WANG Guoqiang, Chairman of the China Association of Chinese Medicine, states that the Chinese Government has considered people’s health as a strategic priority, and the TCM sector will focus on providing all-round health services throughout the life of every individual. While preserving ancient wisdoms and embracing innovation, the TCM industry will utilize modern technologies, materials and approaches for a better interpretation of TCM theories, improve TCM’s therapeutic effects, and make health services more accessible.

WANG also points out that diagnosis and treatment of critical illnesses, research and development of TCM health products, and illness prevention and rehabilitation will receive greater attention. The concerned industry will promote new theories, technologies, products and services to build a wellness culture based on creative and innovative TCM solutions and eliminate the current shortfalls in TCM-based healthcare.

Drug R&D: Pushing forward the Supply of Health Services

Michael Møller notes that the primary task of the 2030 Agenda is the sustainable growth of preventive medicine. HU Xiang, Executive Chairman of Xiong’An International Health Forum, believes that the pertinent question nowadays is how to encourage innovation amid technological revolution, especially in health sector where innovation is the hardest challenge.

Experts have noted the wide investment and technological gap in drug R&D between China and Western countries, causing the R&D of “new drug” in China to devolve into shadowing and copying foreign drugs. Additionally, there is no shortcut to drug development, which is characterized by large investment, high cost, great risk, high returns, and long cycles. A pharmaceutical company may very well be fighting for its own life during the development of new drug due to a wide range of potential “failure points” including disconnect between theory, research and production, weak clinical research capacity, and prolonged approval process.

“The new drugs approved in China are not really new yet, because most of them are still at the stage of fundamental innovation rather than original innovation,” remarks ZHANG Simin, Chairman of Shenzhen Neptunus Group Co., Ltd. He believes that drug R&D has been and will continue to be a driving force for the health industry. As long as there is a favorable environment for innovation, Chinese pharmaceutical companies can develop new drugs with quality in the true sense of the word.

“Drug R&D is among the most complex work of human endeavors, and the most important indicator of a country’s comprehensive technological strength and ability to mobilize public resources,” XIANG Hu says. He also adds that only when innovation flourishes in drug development in China will the country become less reliant on expensive imported drugs and enable a better life for its citizenry.