Burden is heavy for grassroots providers

Updated: 2013-11-13 07:23

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

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China has monitored and managed the health of more than 80 million hypertension patients and more than 20 million diabetes patients, but the process must become more efficient.

Mao Qun'an, director of the department of communications, National Health and Family Planning Commission, made the remarks at a briefing held by the commission and World Health Organization with reporters on Tuesday in Beijing.

Statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that by March, health institutions across the country have monitored and managed 81.46 million hypertension patients and 22.84 million diabetes patients, accounting for about 31 percent of the country's hypertension patients and 20 percent of its diabetic population.

The monitoring and management involves mainly grassroots healthcare providers, such as community healthcare service centers and healthcare institutions in rural townships. Staff at the centers and institutions are required to keep track of the health of those with hypertension and diabetes in face-to-face interviews and by filling out forms at least four times a year.

Mao acknowledged that the burden on grassroots healthcare providers is huge.

"The tasks for the grassroots healthcare providers have turned from treatment to management of public health. They need training on this aspect, and the government sets aside money to train them every year," he said.

"The fact that there are new cases of chronic diseases every year means their workload is increasing. Also, the number of grassroots healthcare providers in many areas does not meet the government's requirements."

How well healthcare providers have monitored hypertension and diabetes patients is determined by whether the providers have filled out paperwork on a regular basis, but the paperwork can be too large a burden, Mao said.

"Now we are studying changing the way of maintaining records, such as using a computer network to keep track of patients' health conditions," he said.

Liu Lisheng, former president of the World Hypertension League, said public education is also vital to keeping down the rate of hypertension and diabetes.

"Grassroots healthcare providers are already busy. It's a heavy workload to have follow-ups four times a year for these patients. We should motivate patients to watch out for their own health" instead of relying only on the doctors, she said.