BEIJING, April 7 (Xinhua) -- China will deal with shortages of medical staff in underdeveloped rural areas under medical system reform plans published here Tuesday.
In the reform plan for 2009-2011, China pledged to offer about 1.9 million training sessions for village and township medical clinics and urban community medical institutions over the next three years.
This is part of a plan to produce general practitioners to work in the countryside.
China is backward in offering good public medical care. Hotels in large cities are often full of hopeful patients who complain about how long they must wait to register at hospitals and be treated.
The less-developed rural regions, where 900 million farmers live, are even worse off in terms of medical facilities and staff, and the gap has continued to widen with the country's fast urbanization.
Beijing has promised to invest 850 billion yuan (124.4 billion U.S. dollars) in medical reform, part of which will improve the "soft strength" or human resources of the medical sector.
Every third-class urban hospital (the highest level under the Chinese evaluation system) will have to establish long-term cooperative relations with about three county-level or qualified township hospitals.
The project of sending urban doctors to practice in rural areas will continue. Initiated in 2005, the project is considered to be an effective way to improve rural medical service in a short time.
Doctors in large urban hospitals and disease prevention and control facilities must work in the countryside for one year before getting promoted.
Meanwhile, college graduates are encouraged to work in rural regions. Those who volunteer to stay in rural clinics for more than three years will be exempted from tuition and paying back school loans.