China’s Health amidst the Global Economic Crisis

Potential Effects and Challenges

The current economic crisis has hit China hard. China's high savings rate is a significant deterrent to boosting domestic consumption, and with little sign of a resumption of global demand for Chinese exports, the leadership recognized early in the crisis that it needed to take aggressive action to ensure growth from alternative sources. Hence, Beijing leapt into the fray with a massive $586-billion fiscal stimulus package in November 2008.

As China moves to restructure its economy, a major overhaul of its health care system has become one of its top priorities. In April 2009, after over two years of intense debate and repeated revisions, Beijing unveiled its blueprint for health care as part of its economic stimulus package—a much-anticipated reform to fix the ailing medical system and ensure fair and affordable health services for all 1.3 billion citizens. The reform plan anticipates improving public confidence in China's health care system and thus creating a multiplier effect through the economy in response to the global economic downturn. Despite these aspirations, however, Beijing's objectives might not be achieved without proper implementation of the plan.

Charles Freeman
Senior Adviser (Non-resident), Economic and Trade Affairs

Xiaoqing Lu Boynton