Asian Bioethics Review 10 (3):171-187 (2018)

Reidar Lie
University of Bergen
The WHO Consultative Group on Equity and Universal Health Coverage published a comprehensive report titled “Making Fair Choices on the Path to Universal Health Coverage” detailing strategies that countries should adopt when moving towards providing healthcare coverage to the entire population. The report provides detailed guidelines on how to expand coverage to more people, what services should be covered, and how to prioritize these healthcare resources in achieving universal healthcare coverage. The main goal of this WHO report is to ensure fair and equitable access for all population groups within a country during the implementation of UHC. In principle, the group’s approach is sound and fair, but we argue that each country must take into account its own unique situations in designing a pathway towards UHC. China has achieved near UHC but did so by an approach that would have been deemed completely unacceptable based on this group’s recommendations. In this article, we provide a brief review of the Chinese healthcare system and argue that the implementation of the recommendations in the report is not always feasible. We argue that there are alternate pathways towards achieving UHC and there are good reasons for China’s departure from the approach outlined by the WHO report. Nevertheless, we acknowledge substantial inequities still exist for various segments of the population and among the diverse areas of China in accessing healthcare services and make suggestions on how to reduce such inequities within the system.
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DOI 10.1007/s41649-018-0052-1
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