China vows to guarantee access to medical services, COVID drugs amid surging demand
Published: Dec 14, 2022 08:51 PM
People line at a drug store in Beijing on December 8, 2022. Photo: VCG

People line at a drug store in Beijing on December 8, 2022. Photo: VCG


The current priority of fighting COVID-19 is to guarantee the access for the public to medical services and medicine, especially timely, effective and convenient medical treatment for the elderly, pregnant women, children and people with underlying diseases, China's National Health Commission (NHC) emphasized on Wednesday.

At a press conference to detailing medical service guarantees and medicine supply, China's Ministry of industry and Information Technology (MIIT) vowed to guarantee the supply of key drugs to alleviate supply pressures in some parts of the country, especially the medicine supply in medical institutions and nursing houses.

As some people said they had difficulties buying drugs to cure fever and cough, the MIIT committed to assisting drug companies expand production in all kinds of ways and organize online drug stores to help deliver the medicines to communities.

Despite temporary shortage of rapid antigen test kits in some places due a spike in demand, China has adequate production capacity of antigen test kits, vaccines and masks and is able to produce sufficient ones to meet the public demand, a MIIT official added.

In the face of pressure in medical resources, the NHC said they would require hospital to increase the number of fever clinics and simplify medical procedure to shorten average consulting times given the current sharply-increasing demand of medical treatment in hospitals' fever clinics.

The commission also requires fully boosting the role of primary medical service institutions and online medical diagnosis through which the public can conveniently access health consultation, medical guidance and treatment.

Beijing's12 districts have all released the phone numbers of family doctors within their districts. For example, the most populous Chaoyang district has listed out 849 teams of family doctors including the doctors' name, their phone numbers and the communities they serve.

Special funds have been put into local places across the nation in specified plans to increase the number of designated and sub-designated hospitals, to expand resources for critical cases such as adding beds, equipping medical devices and speeding up training of medical staff, according to a NHC official.

Medical institutions must accept all patients, no matter whether their COVID-19 test results are negative or positive, the NHC emphasized, saying cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Nanchang have asked hospitals to set two separate areas in all clinics for patients with and without COVID-19 symptoms.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 3.5 million boxes of anti-epidemic drugs, including several kinds of cold medicine and fever reducer, distributed to nearly 300 secondary and tertiary hospitals, more than 2,200 community medical clinics and more than 3,000 drug stores in Beijing, Beijing Daily reported.

Chinese drug developer Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical Group's six pharmaceutical sites across the country are expanding production to ensure the supply of medicine the public needs the most, the company told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The company said the production of one of its cold medicines has increased eight times with the average daily production benefiting nearly one million people, and the company is expediting the delivery of these medicines to places across the country. 

According to CCTV News, more than 160 industrial enterprises under China's drug producer Sinopharm are producing day and night with the daily production capacity expanded to two times larger than usual. The company has also set up working groups to deliver the medicine to retail terminals.