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China faces shortage of general practitioners

05-14-2012 08:53 BJT

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China is facing a deficiency of general practitioners. The State Council is demanding that there be 2 or 3 qualified GPs per 10,000 people by 2020. But even this is far below the demand.

Every week doctor Chen Weiqing travels to Jinyuan Village in suburban Shanghai to check up on villagers’ health. As a general practitioner, he can treat almost any illness here.

A villager in Jinyuan Village said, “It’s hard to get to the hospital because of poor transportation, so we rarely see doctors when we’re sick. Now Doctor Chen comes here every Wednesday. It’s very convenient.”

Villagers like this new sort of health service, because it helps build good relationships between doctor and patient. Chen said the health center where he serves expects each doctor takes care for a thousand patients at a time. Many doctors feel this is quite a challenge.

Chen Weiqing said, “I don’t think a doctor can handle a thousand patients, so we need more general practitioners. But the fact is that there are not enough doctors. It will take at least a year to see a thousand patients.”

General practitioners account for 30% of all doctors in developed countries. But in Shanghai, they only account for 2.3%.

Du Zhaohui, director of Weifang Community Health Center, said, “There are far too few general practitioners in our community. Internationally, 25 hundred residents should have one general practitioner. We lack about 10 practitioners according to the standard.”

Brain drain is a big driver of this for many community health centers.

Tang Junhui, vice-director of Datuan Community Health Center, said, “College graduates don’t want to work in a community health centre, especially in rural areas. The pay is not as good as in big hospitals. Many just quit.”

Doctor Hu Bing said she works more than 8 hours a day and only earns about 50 thousand yuan a year.

Hu Bing said, “I don’t think our pay matches our work as general practitioners. A proper salary would help to ignite a zeal for work.”

Xu Wen, general practitioner, said, “General practitioners’ social status is comparatively lower than other doctors. People don’t trust us and think we’re not worthy of high wages. That’s why we get low pay.”

Limited career opportunities are another roadblock. Hu Bing said, “General practitioners have fewer titles to advance than other doctors. It’s difficult for us to get promoted.”

In Shanghai, there are about 4 thousand registered general practitioners. But the city will still need a large influx of doctors to meet demand. So bringing them in and keeping them in place will be a big challenge for the future.


Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: CNTV.CN

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