Speech by the Regional Director at the Policy Briefing on Progress of China's Health-care Reform

Beijing, China
26 February 2013

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen:

It is a pleasure to moderate this session of the Policy Briefing on the Progress of China's Health-care Reform by the Honourable Minister Chen Zhu.

The Minister briefs the international community every year on the progress of health-care reform.

As the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, it is a privilege to be here for this year's briefing.

Since I first met the Minister, we had an instant affinity that has turned into a very close working relationship.

He is a man of exceptional ability who remains humble and approachable.

As an aside, let me also tell you that he is the fastest health minister in answering my e-mails.

He usually responds within 20 minutes.

(Optional: I won't tell you who is the slowest in the Region!)

Examples of Minister Chen Zhu's accomplishments are everywhere you look in China — from large cities to remote villages.

Under his leadership, the National Health Reform was planned and implemented down to the grassroots level.

During my recent visits to Chongqing and Shaanxi, I saw how rapidly infrastructure and human resources for health are being developed.

I also saw firsthand the progress being made to extend insurance coverage and access to affordable medicines to nearly all China's people.

Tremendous resources are being devoted to improve health systems and the entire health sector to improve the quality of care for everyone.

Under Minister Chen Zhu's leadership, more than 100 million infants were vaccinated for measles in one month, which is unprecedented globally.

His quick response and stewardship also led to the rapid control of the 2011 polio outbreak.

As you know, WHO and China have always been close partners.

Recently, this partnership has even grown stronger with the new country cooperation strategy, which will be launched later this morning.

For WHO and for me personally, we are grateful for the opportunity to work with such an outstanding leader. And we look forward to building on the strength of this relationship to help achieve his inspirational vision for health in China.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure now to welcome Professor Chen Zhu, the Minister of Health of China, to deliver his Policy Briefing on the Progress of China's Health-care Reform.