BEIJING - CHINA said on Wednesday it planned to invest 850 billion yuan (S$181 billion) in the reform of its healthcare system in the next three years.
Premier Wen Jiabao put forward a series of targets for the reform of the nation's struggling healthcare system at a meeting of the State Council, or cabinet, according to a statement posted on the government's website.
'As a preliminary estimate... all levels of government are expected to invest 850 billion yuan within the next three years,' the statement said.
The meeting stressed that by 2011, China aimed to have basic medical protection for most of its population, and also planned to improve access to basic healthcare and to better levels of service.
The burden of medical costs for citizens would also be eased, according to the statement.
Until the 1980s, most Chinese citizens had access to cheap healthcare, but the system was broken up in the 1980s under the country's economic reform policies.
That led to a rise in the cost of healthcare and drugs, and to an increasing divide in access to treatment.
Recent cases of patients dying because they could not afford treatment have highlighted the inadequacies of the current system, and provoked strong criticism. -AFP