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Bringing health care to the vulnerable - developing equitable and sustainable rural health insurance in China and Vietnam

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Improving healthcare access for the rural poor

A research group has helped spur efforts aimed at better healthcare access for the poor in developing countries. Project partners successfully achieved all their set objectives, something that bodes well for the future design of equitable health insurance schemes for the less privileged.

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China and Vietnam have enjoyed fast-paced economic development over the last 20 years, in turn accompanied by major social changes — both positive and challenging. One aspect of these changes concerns healthcare financing, difficulties in healthcare access and prohibitive healthcare charges for the rural poor. The EU-funded project 'Bringing health care to the vulnerable - developing equitable and sustainable rural health insurance in China and Vietnam' (Rhincav) set out to reform rural health insurance in these countries and thus promote a more effective system offering equity in health. Successful outcomes aimed at better informed health policy designs for increased population coverage, efficient service provision and user satisfaction, and contributions to poverty reduction and sustainability. To achieve such results, Rhincav members analysed perceived needs for rural health insurance and examined the strengths and weaknesses of already existing schemes. They developed and implemented feasible pilot rural health insurance schemes for target populations, and monitored and evaluated their effects. Project findings and proposals for sustainable, equity-oriented rural health insurance schemes were disseminated to academic and policy communities through scientific papers and an international dissemination workshop, organised in China. The initiative’s website served to facilitate information and knowledge exchange, which was further enhanced through targeted activities including radio and television programmes and distribution of newsletters and policy briefs. Rhincav project work promises to improve rural healthcare insurance schemes for a healthier, stronger rural population in developing countries.

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