Health summit highlights China’s lack of nurses

November 1, 2012

BEIJING- China’s health care system is severely affected by an insufficient number of nurses, said Dr. Lincoln Chen, president of the U.S.-based China Medical Board, at the Second China-U.S. Health Summit held Wednesday in Beijing.

Dr. Chen cited the 2012 World Health Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), which show that both China’s aggregate number of nurses and its nurse-doctor ratio lagged far behind that of the United States.

According to the statistics, there are a total of 1.854 million nurses and midwives in China but 2.927 million in the United States. The nurse-doctor ratio in China stands at 0.97, whereas there are 3.9 nurses for every one doctor in the United States.

“China’s ability to run a centralized health care system, with teamwork dependent on the primary level, is significantly compromised by the small number of nurses in the health care system,” Dr. Chen said.

Drawing on American practices, Dr. Chen said nurses and physician assistants (PA) actually play big roles in providing primary health care services, particularly in rural areas.

Of the total primary care providers in urban areas, 44 percent are specialists, 27 percent are nurse practitioners (NP) and PAs, and the rest are general practice (GP) and family practice (FP) providers, according to 2010 statistics from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In rural areas of the United States, NPs and PAs account for 59 percent of the total primary care providers, Dr. Chen said.

The summit was co-hosted by the Harvard School of Public Health, Peking Union Medical College and the Tsinghua School of Public Management, with support from the Chinese Ministry of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.

The China Medical Board was endowed by John D. Rockefeller as an independent American foundation to advance health in China and Asia by strengthening medical education, research and policies.

Source: Xinhuanet

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