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Strengthening the Development of Public Health Emergency Mechanism and Promoting Sustainable Development

2003-10-31author:Zhu Qingshengsource:

  Respected Chairman of the Conference, Distinguished Guests,

  Ladies and Gentlemen:

  It is a great honor for me to attend today's conference on behalf of the Ministry of Health of China. On this occasion, I would like to share with you such topics as the establishment of mechanism for public health emergencies, public health security and sustainable development, especially the development of proper public health systems here in China. Now, I would like to address the following four issues.

  1. The Important Inspirations and Experience Learned from the SARS Outbreak

  SARS epidemic occurred in 24 provinces and cities in mainland China in the first half of this year, which affected 266 cities and counties, cause 5327 cumulative number of cases including 349 deaths. This unexpected catastrophe, once led us into a great trouble, threatened the health and lives of Chinese people and severely influenced normal social life, economic development as well as foreign affairs.

  Faced with the severe SARS epidemic, the Central Government adopted decisive policies, directly launched a national-wide campaign against SARS, and won significant victories from one stage to another. Looking back the soul-stirring campaign, we have obtained precious experiences and lessens. In the first place, the victory attributes to the strong determination and leadership of the central government. Secondly, the widespread involvement of the mass in the prevention and control of the epidemic works. Thirdly, the Chinese medical staff made a tenacious struggle and great sacrifice in the battle. Fourthly, we did our work with the help of legal system and science and technology. Fifthly, our openness and transparent policies play an important role. The sixth point attributes to our immediate expansion in international cooperation and exchange.

  Meanwhile, we are fully aware that, with the rapid development of economic globalization and information technology, major public health events are not limited to general health problems, if not handled properly, they can affect beyond the national border and bring about significantly adverse impacts on national economic development, social stability as well as international exchange activities. We must acknowledge the importance of well established public health system from the strategic point of view. SARS outbreak reveals that there exists serious defects and weakness in the public health system of China. It alerts us and makes the whole society reach the following common understanding. That is, we must increase the input for public health, establish a safe and sound health emergency mechanism, improve current diseases prevention and control system, and promote harmonious developments of our health system, economy and society.

  2. The Establishment of Emergency Mechanism as an Important Component of

  Social Administration System

  Currently, economic globalization brings prosperity for the whole world. However, many new problems and even conflicts go along with the process of globalization, which gradually lead to many potential crisis. With the rapid pace of urbanization and industrialization in China, there emerge many problems and potential conflicts between society and economy, between urban and rural area, between human-being and the nature. Therefore, there are high possibilities of the occurrence of various social crisis, natural disasters and unexpected catastrophes, which add more sophisticated and complex tasks and activities into the framework of social administration. As a result, they impose a greater challenge to the enhancement and reform of social administration systems in China. Thus, it is of great importance for the mass to improve their awareness of social responsibility, security, and active involvement in public activities. With regard to the government, the ability of social administration and the ability of the prevention from and the preparation for unexpected calamities and social crisis shall be enhanced.

  1) Rapidly Establishing Various Kinds of Emergency Mechanism

  Emergency mechanism embraces a range of activities such as handling of major social crisis, facing severe natural disasters, meeting the challenge of significant international events, as well as dealing with unexpected public health catastrophe. Emergency treatments and rescue work are involved in almost any kinds of sudden or unexpected events, which has a lot to do with public health system. Therefore, to make proper preparation, emphasis must not only put on the awareness and practical work, but also on the establishment and improvement of appropriate mechanism and system.

  2) Developing Safe and Sound Social Administration Mechanism

  Social administration mechanism plays a fundamental role in the establishment and development of emergency mechanism. With well established social administration system and its smooth daily operation, emergency mechanism will work better in case of need. Hence, government at all levels must, in accordance with the needs of market economy and new circumstances, actively change their roles and functions so as to further improve their administrating ability and public service performance. As social administration mechanism involves many aspects, it is important to make unified planning with due consideration for all concerned, and strengthen one aspect after another. At the same time, attention must be paid to improve the linkages among various social management mechanism so that a comprehensive administration system covering the management and services for the entire society can be formed.

  3) Developing a Well Established Mobilization Mechanism

  The key of successfully tackling unexpected events lies in the prompt and effective mobilization of sufficient resources including human resources, financial resources and material resources. We must stick to the well established tradition and best practices in this respect. Meanwhile, we must give energetic support in developing new ways of mass mobilization. With the help of economic, political and legal measures, we will establish a safe and sound mechanism by which all the human and social resources can be effectively mobilized, organized and involved to meet the challenge of emergency events. In this way, we can make full advantage of and systemize the superiority of our socialist society, which refers to concentrating all national resources to achieve something great


  3. Accelerating the Establishment for Public Health Emergency Mechanism, Promoting Sustainable Development of the Economy and Society

  The establishment of public health system is a huge and systematic social program that demands extensive participation and concerted efforts by both the people and the government. As the leading player, government must formulate relevant regulations and policies, promote the development of public health service; monitor and supervise the implementation of public laws and regulations; maintain social stability and good order in terms of public health; organize all social parties and forces as well as individuals to fight against unexpected health calamities and the spread of contagious diseases; educate the people to keep a good habit and live a healthy and civilized life; train high quality administrative and technical talents in the field of public health; and provide excellent service for public health.

  With different historical and cultural background, each country has different economic levels and faces different tasks in the field of public health, therefore, the objective, focus and measures differ. For this reason, the identification of the focus and necessary activities for the establishment and development of the public health system in China must be in line with the fundamental situations of our country and with the consideration of major problems in public health. At present, the objectives of public health activities in China in the next three years are: to establish safe and sound public health emergency mechanism and develop diseases prevention and control system as well as monitoring and administration system for public health activities. In the next stage, we will improve basic health care system in urban area, primary health care system in rural area, national public health system and its financing channels so as to meet basic health needs of the Chinese people and continuously improve their health status.

  It is the prime duty and top priority for health administration authorities to work well and build up their abilities in dealing with unexpected public health catastrophes. In the near future, health authorities will take the following tasks seriously.

  (1) Making Protocol for public health emergency.

  With past experience and lessons in mind, health authorities at all levels must work out their protocol for public health emergency, including the establishment of an unified health event command, through which instructions are promptly delivered, responsibilities are clearly divided, all reactions are in time and efficiency guaranteed. To this end, we have formulated such programs as "National Protocol for public health emergency" and "Protocol for the Prevention and Control of Potential Future SARS Cases".

  (2) Establishing an Unblocked Information Network for Epidemic Situation.

  With the help of modern information technology, health authorities at all levels must establish an unified, efficient, rapid and accurate reporting system for unexpected public health catastrophes or epidemic situation on a national scale. Disease prevention and control institutions at all levels must be able to get easy access to both national and local medical networks. The Ministry of Health will highlight the development of national health information platform and data base, and help local health authorities to improve their health information networking so that a national epidemic information network can be established by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Ministry must also develop a information system to inform the public if necessary. In doing so, it strengthens the prevention awareness for the epidemic and urges local authorities to take active measures.

  (3) Establishing and Developing Disease Prevention and Control System.

  In the light of Chinese situation, an appropriate national system for the prevention and control of diseases will be established through such measures as the identification and division of functions and responsibilities; deepening of the institutional reform; streamlining the workforce; building up sufficient and qualified professional team; and ensuring the necessary funds. The functions and responsibilities of disease prevention and control institution are explicated with optimization of personnel structure and implementation of public recruitment for positions and personnel allocation system to improve professional personnel team. Personnel funding and operation funding are truly guaranteed.

  (4) Establishing Emergency Medical Treatment System.

  Emergency medical centers will be established in every municipalities directly under the administration of the central government, provincial capitals and prefecture cities. The emergency room of every hospital in these cities is embraced into city emergency medical treatment system. At the same time, every municipality and provincial capital will choose one general hospital as a designated contagious disease hospital or the reserve one for the same purpose as soon as some expansion and reconstruction work is done. A infectious disease hospital or a reserved one is also needed for all prefecture cities. As for county hospitals, a infectious disease division and a quarantined area must be provided.

  (5)Establishing an Emergency Medical Treatment Team.

  Every provincial capital and prefecture city in China must set up a high-quality competent medical team composed of disease prevention and control professionals with the background of either Chinese traditional medicine or Western medicine, and rich in clinic and field experience. The Ministry of Public Health will collect the information on all emergency medical teams and establish a talents reservoir for handling of unexpected public health catastrophes. If necessary, the Ministry will pick up relevant specialists to form a national task force to provide inter-province support.

  (6)Enhancing International Exchange and Cooperation.

  International exchange and cooperation plays an important role in the prevention and control of the SARS epidemic. Whereas in the process of the establishment and development of a good public health system and health emergency mechanism, it is also of great significance for us to learn from the well established foreign procedures and practices.

  Distinguished guests, friends, the Chinese Government is a highly responsible government, and the Chinese people are intelligent and brave people. We have full confidence in the great course we are engaged in, and we firmly believe that we can successfully meet every challenge imposed by any kinds of diseases and public health emergency.

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