The development and impact of primary health care in China from 1949 to 2015: A focused review

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Abstract

High-quality primary health care (PHC) services are associated with better health outcomes and positive health equity. Providing PHC services to all inhabitants is one of the Chinese government's health care objectives. However, an imbalance between people's increasing health needs and effective health service utilization exists in China. The objective of this review is to identify evidence for PHC development in China and to summarize the challenges as a reference for the future improvement of China's PHC system. Literature searches related to China's PHC were performed in PubMed, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and Wan-fang databases. Related data were collected from the China Statistical Yearbook on Health and Family Planning 2003–2016, the China National Health Accounts Report 2015, and An Analysis Report of National Health Services Survey in China, 2013. The PHC network and the population's health have improved in China in recent years, with general practitioners as “gatekeepers” who have gradually taken the initiative to offer health services to residents. The limitation of input and shortages of resources and skilled health care providers may restrict the sustainable development of China's PHC system. Therefore, policy support from the government is necessary.

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