China urged by state agencies to ramp up number of ICU beds

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  • Several state agencies recommend that China increase the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds over the next few years.
  • China has gradually increased ICU beds over the years, but critics say its health system remains under-resourced.
  • In 2021, China had 4.37 ICU beds per 100,000 people, significantly lower than the 34.2 in the U.S.

China should increase the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds over the next few years as part of its public health measures, several state agencies recommended in a joint statement published on Monday.

The world’s second most populous country has gradually increased ICU beds over the years, but critics say its health system remains under-resourced. 

It was also severely stretched after authorities abruptly ended national COVID pandemic restrictions in late 2022.

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China had only 4.37 ICU beds per 100,000 people in 2021, compared with 34.2 in the United States as of 2015, according to a paper by Shanghai’s Fudan School of Public Health.

Hospital

A nurse walks inside a quarantine room in the Shanghai Public Clinical Center, in Shanghai, China, on Feb. 17, 2020. China should increase the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds over the next few years as part of its public health measures, several state agencies recommended in a joint statement published on Monday. (Noel Celis/Pool via REUTERS)

ICU beds nationwide should reach 15 per 100,000 people by the end of 2025 and 18 per 100,000 by the end of 2027, the National Health Commission and other state agencies said in a proposal.

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The proposal also recommended the number of hospital beds convertible to ICU should reach 10 per 100,000 people by 2025 and 12 by 2027.

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