More pediatrians needed at grassroots level

China is short of about 86,000 pediatricians, experts told the Xinhua Pediatric Forum in the city over the weekend.

China is short of about 86,000 pediatricians, experts told the Xinhua Pediatric Forum in Shanghai over the weekend.

In addition to the shortage, the placement of the country's current 130,000 pediatricians is problematic, with most working in leading pediatric hospitals or leading public hospitals, and few in grassroots facilities.

“We need more pediatric general physicians, who solve the majority of common diseases and help classify patients in the neighborhood,” Dr Sun Kun, president of Shanghai Xinhua Hospital said. “Because of the lack of such doctors, patients have to go all the way to crowded leading hospitals. It is a waste of medical resources and also troublesome for patients.”

In the US, 80 percent of pediatricians are GPs working at the grassroots level, and only 20 percent of leading specialists work in big hospitals for complicated and serious diseases.

“In China, the situation is on the contrary,” Sun said. “That’s why our hospitals are always so crowded. About 80 percent of children’s diseases are common diseases like fever and the flu, which can be solved at the grassroots with GPs.”

Shanghai Jiao Tong University has started to expand the cultivation of medical students majoring in pediatrics. Its recruitment has increased from 30 new students last year to 60 this year. 

The number is expected to expand to 100 next year, experts said.

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