Alumnus Dr Jin Xu talks China, Dr Tedros and Universal Health Coverage 

image 1PhD Public Health Policy alumnus Dr Jin Xu is an Assistant Professor at Peking University China Center for Health Development Studies. Jin is currently writing up papers from his thesis on the balance between hospitals and primary care in China, as well as starting new projects on health system transitions and innovations. His current projects include evaluating removing pharmaceutical sales profit from health facility revenue in China, and a project on developing an integrated delivery system of healthy ageing in China.

In August 2017, Jin had the opportunity to attend two conversations in China with Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and fellow alumnus, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On the first occasion, the conversation was held between Dr. Tedros and young people from China, where some members of the of LSHTM alumni community, both Chinese and non-Chinese alumni were in attendance.

Jin told us that at this event Dr Tedros was very keen to engage Chinese youth. “I was surprised that he found time in his very busy schedule — the main purpose of his visit was to attend the launching conference of “the Healthy Silk Road” initiative, which is a multilateral health cooperation initiative started by China and many other countries, and the health arm of the Belt and Road Initiative. He was meeting top leaders, presidents and vice presidents in charge of health for the first time since he became Director-General.”

During the conversation, Jin raised the question about China’s role in helping African countries achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Dr Tedros mentioned China’s experiences in health systems, and the medicines, vaccines, and technologies. He was passionate about the role of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and said:“I really think China’s success is relevant to developing countries”.

“The second meeting that Jin attend with Dr Tedros was held at Peking University — a comprehensive university with top Chinese researchers in public health, diplomacy and international development where Dr Tedros said that he felt at home. He told the audience that his personal hero was Dr. Yoyo Tu, alumnus of Peking University, who discovered the anti-malarial Artemisinin. Dr Tedros himself is a malariologist — trained at LSHTM.”

Once again, he said that China’s success in providing health coverage for 1.3 billion people suggested that UHC is achievable. He said he had reached several agreements with the Chinese leadership and that he supported “the Healthy Silk Road” initiative. He said high quality evidence from China is crucial in translating China’s experience and making China’s global health initiatives more effective.

In response to Dr Tedros’ comments, Jin told us that he agrees that China could offer potentially relevant lessons; “China’s progress is related to years of exploration with significant local adaptation based on international experiences.”

“China’s diplomacy and international development strategy overall is becoming more proactive and open. The Chinese government has also realised the potential of sharing Chinese lessons (from its past experience and also its on-going exploration) with countries elsewhere. It has the potential to offer a set of solutions covering all the key building blocks, from information to medicines and others, rather than focusing just narrowly on a few infectious diseases with small scale vertical programmes. China also has a broader vision of international development—including building infrastructure and so on. This has increased the likelihood of China’s global efforts towards UHC becoming an integral progress of overall international development.”

“I am optimistic that China’s role in global efforts towards UHC will be unique, aligned with global need, comprehensive, and beneficial. I think alumni and faculty members of LSHTM and other prestigious public health research institutions can take advantage of China’s increasing contributions to global health and be the change agent in incorporating best research evidence to the process.”

Images courtesy of Dr Jin Xu.

Comments are closed.