Chinese general practice at the crossroads

July 24, 2013

On Saturday July 20, 2013, WONCA president, Michael Kidd, and CEO, Garth Manning attended a roundtable discussion on the development of general practice/family medicine in China.

Attendees included Professor Chen Zhu, until recently Minister of Health in China and now Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Dr Jin Shengguo, Deputy Director General of the Department of Medical Science, Technology and Education of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China, and Minister Xu Jianguang, Director General of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning.

Also in attendance were Professor Zhu Shanzhu, Chairman of the General Practice Society of the Chinese Medical Association and Director of the General Practice Faculty of the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University, and Professor Zeng Yixin, Vice- Chairman of the General Practice Society of the Chinese Medical Association and President of Peking Union Medical College in Beijing. The WONCA delegation was joined by the leaders of GP/family medicine colleges in Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, South Korea, Chinese Taipei and the United Kingdom.

Professor Chen Zhu has previously outlined how China has embarked on a massive drive to train and recruit up to 400,000 general practitioners in the next seven years in order to reform the country’s health system to meet the current and future needs of the population, especially the 800,000,000 people living in rural areas.

Challenges discussed at the roundtable meeting included ways to establish a system under which family doctors serve as gate keepers, ways to encourage local residents to use community healthcare services, ways to encourage medical students to become family doctors, the key component of high-quality family medicine residency training programs, and the need for each university medical school to have a Department of General Practice/Family Medicine.

WONCA is committed to supporting our colleagues in China in meeting these challenges to ensure a family doctor for every family in China.

(Image shows: WONCA member at large, Donald Li, WONCA CEO Garth Manning, President of Japan Primary Care Association Izumi Maruyama, and President of Royal College of General Practitioners Mike Pringle at round table in Shanghai.)