Beijing medical city would be a medical tourism attraction

A planned medical city for east Beijing’s Tongzhou district is eyeing the growing demand for high-quality medical services and has set a goal of becoming a medical tourism destination. The initial aim is to attract some of the 60,000 and growing number of Chinese people going to other countries for medical treatment.

Chen Lihua of the Fu Wah International Group, developer of the medical city, says, “Since Chinese people are becoming richer and richer, their awareness of health is growing rapidly. That is why we are going to build a first-grade medical city. The medical city will include disease prevention centres, excellent general hospitals, a nursing home and a health examination centre.”

Zeng Yixin of Peking Union Medical College comments, “As an international metropolis, Beijing should have health centers that provide high-quality medical services and set a model for nearby cities. Being able to provide high-quality medical services, especially curing complicated and chronic diseases, is essential. Since we do not have much experience with high-quality health service in China, we can surely learn a lot through cooperation with foreign researchers.”

Though the cost and time needed for construction have not yet been set, the developer is determined to invest in the project and build the largest hospital in China. As the first-stage of the medical city, a cancer research centre will be built for Chinese scientists to cooperate with University of Oxford experts on introducing target therapy to China. The therapy is a type of anti-cancer therapy that blocks the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted substances essential for tumor growth. Professor David Kerr of the University of Oxford explains, “Some of the treatments have been used in the West for many, many years before they come to China. Now we want to do trials both in the West and China, so this will hugely speed up getting the therapy and new drugs to Chinese citizens on time. Target therapy has been in clinical application in Western countries since 2003, and was proved more effective than current treatments and less harmful to normal cells than traditional methods.” Besides introducing the therapy, Kerr and his team will train Chinese doctors and nurses with their knowledge of tumours.

Professor Sun Yan of the Cancer Institute and Hospital at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences says, “Only 10 % of the cancer patients who need drug therapy in China can get access to target therapy, which is lower than in the West. Target therapy is effective for cancers like lung cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer, but it is more costly than chemotherapy, and some Chinese doctors do not know how to use it. We wish that every single patient who needs target therapy will have access to it.”