October 20, 2008, Beijing--The formal launch of the new China Rural Health Project took place in Beijing today. The launch was led by the Ministry of Health and by the speech of Vice Minister Chen who opened the forum. He was joined by officials from MOF, Ministry to Trade and Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission, the UK Ambassador Mr. William Ehrmann, and officials of the World Bank.
The China Rural Health Project is focused on innovation in the health sector. With a grant of $60 million from the U.K. Department for International Development and a World Bank loan over 5 years, it will support innovations at the county level that can contribute to furthering the Government's new health reform agenda. In eight provinces and municipalities, five counties in each province, the project will pilot and then evaluate innovations in health reform that will contribute to the project's overall goals. The provinces include Gansu, Henan, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Chongqing, and Qinghai.
Designated project counties will compete for grants, then awardees will test innovations under the three reform areas of i) rural health financing, ii) improving quality and cost control of service delivery, and iii) strengthening the financing and organization of core public health functions. The project will also coordinate policy development, summarize experience and lessons learnt and disseminate the good initiatives.
Dr. Manny Jimenez, Director of Human Development of the World Bank, noted the project is one of strong partnership and collaboration between U.K. DFID and the World Bank. He pointed out this project continues the decade long partnership in the health sector in China. Dr. Jimenez, addressing the governors of the 40 counties eligible for grants, called upon them to oversee and facilitate the challenge ahead of implementing good ideas related to health reform.
Governors will need to oversee the challenge to facilitate the process of innovation, while at the same time monitoring closely whether there are unintended consequences in the process of reform. Finally, governors will need to evaluate what actually works and does not work. Central level policymakers will use these lessons to scale up the reforms all across China.
The project opens at a fortunate time, coinciding with the Government's draft Health System Reform Proposal released for public comments just last week. '