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China advised to highlight community healthcare

2014-01-23 10:06 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

China should shift its focus from hospitals to community-based healthcare in coping with the aging problem, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) official.

Dr. John Beard, director of the WHO's Department of Ageing and Life Course, spoke to Xinhua before leaving for the Swiss town of Davos to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum(WEF), where elite political and business leaders gather to discuss critical global issues and shape agendas.

Community health was more effective and cheaper, and could play a vital role in preventing diseases, especially non-communicable ones, he said.

Beard also called on people to rethink the role of the elderly.

The elderly presented challenges as well as opportunities to a society, he said, noting "old people are actually very useful resources."

More flexible job opportunities should be created to allow some elderly people to fulfill their wishes to continue making contributions to society, he said.

It was better for old people to be part of the community than being separated from society, he said.

Beard spoke highly of Beijing's efforts to build an age-friendly city, saying the idea fostered the elderly's participation and involvement in a community.

He said WHO had cooperated with China in identifying priorities in improving a system to address the country's aging problem.

Priorities would include not only health insurance, but also infrastructure construction and service quality, among others, Beard said.

"The world is looking at China because you are going through this very quickly, we are looking for new ideas. I think it is good for China to learn from the west, but I think the west will have something to learn from China as well," he said.

Talking about China's new family planning policy, Beard said it would be very important to some individual families, but have minor influence on the country's population structure.

According to Beard, emerging evidence show the family planning policy has less influence on the falling fertility in China than such factors as changing ideas and greater access to contraception.

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