Prevention is the most economical and effective health strategy. To build a strong public health system, the key is to put disease prevention first, reform and improve the disease prevention and control system, and stay prepared for health emergencies.
“Only by developing a strong public health system, improving the early warning and response mechanisms, comprehensively enhancing the capacity for prevention, control and treatment, weaving a tight prevention and control network, and consolidating the wall of quarantine, can we provide a strong guarantee for safeguarding the people’s health,” Chinese President Xi Jinping made the remarks when presiding over a symposium attended by experts and scholars on June 2.
The disease prevention and control system serves as an important guarantee for protecting people’s health and public health security as well as maintaining economic and social stability, said Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
Xi required efforts to make disease prevention measures more calibrated and effective, calling for greater reform in streamlining systems and mechanisms, clarifying functions and improving professional competence.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPC Central Committee, with comrade Xi at the core, has issued guidelines for health work in the new era and elevated the Healthy China initiative as a national strategy. Based on previous experiences, it has adhered to carrying out institutional reforms on the medical and health system, which is a worldwide challenge, with Chinese approaches.
In a short period of time, the country has established the world’s largest basic medical security network, and pushed the overall strength of public health and disease prevention and control capabilities onto a higher level, which has played an important supporting role in improving people’s health.
To prioritize disease prevention is to stick to, carry forward and develop conducts that have long been proved effective in practices. To implement the guideline, the key is to adhere to the people-centered development philosophy and to protect people’s health.
Prevention plays an important role in curing diseases. To provide a strong guarantee for the protection of people’s health, China must unswervingly put prevention in the first place and integrate prevention with treatment, strengthen society-wide efforts to prevent and control diseases, and strive to provide whole-of-the-life-cycle health services for the people and comprehensively improve people’s health.
In the face of the unexpected COVID-19 epidemic, China’s public health and medical service systems have played their key roles, but some weak links and inadequacies were also exposed.
To build a strong public health system, it is necessary to increase reform efforts, and reinforce the weak links and plug the loopholes as soon as possible.
It is also necessary to set up a mechanism to ensure steady input in public health, which will help improve the basic facilities for disease prevention and control and improve the quality of public health service programs.
Efforts should also be made in optimizing the set-up of the functions of disease prevention and control agencies, and establishing mechanisms for better division of work and closer coordination between agencies at different levels.
Besides, it is necessary to build up the capacity of national disease prevention and control agencies in terms of technology, expertise and human resources.
The country will improve the mechanisms for disease control agencies to better coordinate with urban and rural residential communities, so as to strengthen joint prevention and control at the community level.
It will develop new mechanisms for collaboration between medical institutions and disease prevention agencies, to facilitate exchanges of personnel, information and resources, as well as cross-supervision and monitoring.
It will also build a strong team of disease control professionals, modernizing the training and career development mechanism for them.
It is also necessary to strengthen early-stage monitoring and warning for epidemics as a pressing task in improving the public health system.
China should improve the monitoring system for epidemics and public health emergencies, diseases of unknown causes and abnormal health incidents. Assessment and monitoring should be more responsive and accurate. A smart warning mechanism with multiple triggers will be built, together with mechanisms with multiple channels of early warning and monitoring, so as to improve the capacity for timely assessment and coordinated projection.
The country should advance targeted legislative work in the public health sector, including the revision of the law on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and the formulation of a law on preparedness for and response to public health emergencies.
It should also improve the anti-epidemic law enforcement system with clearly defined mandates, standard procedures and vigorous enforcement.
In addition, outreach programs about laws and regulations on public health security and epidemic prevention and treatment will be carried out among the general public to drive home the understanding that everything must be done in accordance with the law.
Public health campaigns are successful examples of adopting the Party’s mass line in health protection and disease prevention. China must draw on the experience of fighting COVID-19 and explore new ways to enrich public health campaigns and extend their scope from environment and sanitation preservation to society-wide comprehensive health management. Overarching and long-term issues concerning people’s health must be addressed.
It is also necessary to improve people’s living environment, strengthen public health infrastructure building, improve urban and rural environment and sanitation, and advance the building of cities with good sanitation.
Among the general public, China will promote healthy, green and environmentally friendly lifestyles, greater health awareness and healthy diets and living habits. Health needs to be factored into all policies. The concept of full life cycle health management should be incorporated into every part of city planning, construction and management.
Party committees and governments at all levels need to prioritize public health work and explore more effective ways of social mobilization.
People’s security is the cornerstone of national security. China should put prevention in the first place, reform and improve the disease prevention and control system, and build a strong public health system. It should also eliminate risks at the source and resolve problems when they first appear and provide a strong guarantee for safeguarding people’s health. By doing this, the country will surely lay a solid foundation for achieving the two centenary goals and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.