• The Chinese government plans to train more pediatricians to add 140,000 more professionals in pediatric departments by 2020.

The Chinese government plans to train more pediatricians to add 140,000 more professionals in pediatric departments by 2020. (Photo : REUTERS)

The Chinese government is set to train more pediatricians in a bid to address an expected demand that would be triggered by the implementation of the two-child policy in the country, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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In a press conference held Wednesday, Feb. 24, Jin Shengguo from the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said that China will try to add 140,000 more pediatricians by 2020, or equivalent to 0.6 pediatricians for every 1,000 children, up from the current 118,000 pediatricians, the report said.

According to the NHFPC, pediatric departments in 35,950 health institutions in the country receive 471 million outpatient visits annually and provide care to 21.62 million inpatients on average.

Each pediatrician has to see 17 outpatients every day in per capita terms, more than double the average of other specialists, the commission said.

Jin said the country will improve the training of pediatric resident doctors, train doctors who shift to pediatric care, and provide adapted courses to ease the shortfall.

Song Yi, an official with the Ministry of Education (MOE), said the ministry is addressing the demand for pediatricians as a result of the introduction of the two-child policy.

The MOE also required the nation's top 38 medical schools to allow more students to enrol on post-graduate pediatric courses, and to have at least one higher learning institute in each region that would offer undergraduate pediatric courses, Song added.

Based on China's public health statistical yearbook in 2015, the number of pediatricians in China dropped from 105,000 to around 100,000 within five years, with an average of only 43 doctors per 100,000 children.

A report by China Daily in January cited the situation in smaller cities and counties such as Weinan City, which is about 70 kilometers away from Shaanxi's capital of Xi'an, where they only had 17 doctors to care for 100,000 children. The number of patients in the hospital exceeded 63,000 in 2014 and increased 12 percent in 2015.

Statistics by the health and family planning commission of Shaanxi showed that among all the pediatricians, less than one-third are university graduates while another one-third are graduates from junior colleges.

According to the report, low salary, high pressure and high risk are the main causes why people are reluctant to become pediatricians.

Medicines and examinations are the primary source of income for medical departments in China, and children are prescribed less medicine than adults as 10 to 15 children get dosage equal to roughly one adult.

The MOE abolished pediatric departments in universities in 1998 due to the one-child policy, the report said.