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The past two decades in China have been years of tremendous economic expansion and maturity, driving the country to become the 2nd largest economy in the world. However, beneath the traditional economic markers of positive growth lie major socio-economic and demographic shifts - including massive urbanization, ageing, a growing middle class and associated lifestyle changes - that have intensified the need to develop an effective and efficient healthcare system for the 21st century.

Many of the core challenges facing China’s healthcare system have arisen as the result of these recent years of robust growth. They include:

  • Developing a more innovative and patient-centric hospital infrastructure and health information systems
  • Caring for a rapidly growing ageing population
  • Preventing and managing chronic diseases
  • Fighting infectious diseases

Over the course of the next 20 years, more than 300 million people are expected to migrate from rural to urban areas, representing an unprecedented geographic population shift. Just as astonishing, over the next 40 years, the number of people aged 60+ will increase by almost 8 million each year, reaching 454 million by 2050. Recognizing such dramatic demographic changes and the resulting healthcare challenges, China has taken significant healthcare reform initiatives with a goal to provide universal, basic and equitable healthcare for all citizens by 2020.

France’s world class healthcare system and substantial experience in handling a range of demographic, healthcare and disease challenges could complement China’s current healthcare efforts around four key themes:

  1. Providing integrated end-to-end solutions across disease management lifecycles, value chains and stakeholder groups.
  2. Delivering superior quality and safety products and services, complemented by training and after-sales services for end users.
  3. Driving innovation within China, through cooperation with Chinese hospitals, companies and scientific institutions alike.
  4. Prioritizing investments in relevant segments of the diverse Chinese market to maximize patient benefits and business impact.

In response to the changing healthcare needs of the Chinese population, China could also benefit from referencing French practices and evolving from within. Such actions could include:

  • Improving access to innovative products and patient care options, thereby improving both health outcomes and long term costs.
  • Encouraging more public private partnerships to accelerate uptake of innovative solutions and open more avenues to healthcare funding.

Certainly this exchange of experiences, ideas and resources will be beneficial in driving the transformation necessary for the healthcare system to meet both the changing needs of Chinese patients and current international standards. Such partnership also naturally lays the foundation for future collaborations and creates a positive vision for further Sino-French cooperative development.

To read more about the various ways in which France could provide relevant and innovative solutions to address China’s current and future healthcare challenges, please download France-China Health Club’s paper “Collaborating for a Healthier Future in China.