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NOVEMBER 2009 UPDATE HOME
More November Features:

Picture Perfect
Power of Soul
U of M recruiting efforts
Bausch lands award
Lending a hand
Talking Head
Revved up research

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February 2010 Briefs

Bygone Days, The 1940s had its share of ups and downs with celebrity visit, WW II. Read more

Brain Drain? Healthy lunch habits can mean a more productive day at the office. Read more

Ring Container Technologies Inc. has made a $300,000 gift to establish the Ring Companies Professorship Fund in the Herff College of Engineering at the U of M. The Professorships will allow the Herff College to retain highcaliber faculty.

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Professors offer glimpse of Chinese health care

By: Cyril Chang and Sandra Richardson

Dr. Sandra Richardson and Dr. Cyril Chang at the Big Goose Pagoda in Xi-an, China.
Dr. Sandra Richardson and Dr. Cyril Chang at the Big Goose Pagoda in Xi-an, China.
We were among eight health care consultants and state health officials from Tennessee to visit China this past summer. We were invited by the Chinese Ministry of Health under an ongoing China-Tennessee Rural Health Care Exchange Program to see their rural health care system first-hand. We met and exchanged ideas with both frontline health care professionals and policy makers about how we can learn from each other in reforming our respective health care systems.

This year’s visit was a follow-up of last year’s exchange program that brought 43 Chinese rural health care administrators and professionals to Tennessee for three weeks of training. The exchange was first initiated by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2007 during Tennessee’s first trade mission to China. Both President Shirley Raines and Dr. Chang participated in the planning for the exchange and witnessed the signing of a letter of understanding in Beijing to establish regular exchanges of health care professionals. This year’s visit was the third major event of this burgeoning health care relationship between China and Tennessee.

The program this past summer took place in Xi’an June 7-22 for more than 100 Chinese health care professionals from eight different provinces currently undergoing rural health care reform. The World Bank and the British Department for International Development program funded the program.

Prior to the weeklong training conference, the eight of us from Tennessee’s three major universities, Vanderbilt, East Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis, spent almost a week in Ankang, a mediumsized city in southern Shaan-xi Province, and visited villages and townships in the surrounding areas.

The health care facilities we saw were not sophisticated technologically by American standards and the quality of training needed urgent upgrade. However, we were heartily impressed with their ambition and determination in extending insurance coverage to everyone and their interest and earnestness in Tennessee’s expertise in the delivery of health care and training.

We were also intrigued by the way they deliver public health services such as health promotion and disease prevention. In the United States, basic public health services are delivered by the public health systems at the county and state levels while medical care is delivered by a separate and mostly private health care system. In China, public health and medical care functions are delivered together by the same hospitals and doctors in each village and township.

China has recently unveiled an ambitious health reform program to establish a basic health care system that can provide “safe, effective, convenient and affordable services” to both urban and rural residents. The United States is currently undergoing our own health care reform to bring insurance coverage to everyone and to slow the growth of health care spending.

It has been a rare honor and opportunity for us to play a small role in the reform of the rural health system in China. We have been told that they find our lectures and seminars interesting and helpful, especially in how to finance health care and use health information technology to improve efficiency. We also know that we have broadened our own perspective on how health care can be delivered in countries with less resources and greater challenges.

(Dr. Cyril Chang is a Suzanne Downs Palmer Professor of Economics and director of the Methodist Le Bonheur Center for Healthcare Economics at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics. He is a former recipient of the U of M’s Eminent Faculty Award. Dr. Sandra Richardson is an assistant professor of management information systems in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics.)

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