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People's Daily Online: "Every 2,000 Beijingers to have a community nurse by 2008"

December 25, 2006 -- Today People's Daily Online posted a Xinhua news agency item reporting that the city of Beijing plans to train enough community nurses that every 2,000 residents will have one in 2008. Because nurses are well-qualified to improve health through preventative care and health management, this program could be a cost-effective way to improve community health.

The short piece notes that Beijing recently issued "qualifications" for 1,743 new community nurses who had just passed "theory and skill exams." That reportedly makes the total current number of such nurses 5,500. The city plans to train 2,500 more of the nurses in the next two years. Given the city's population of 15 million, that would mean there would be more than one for every 2,000 residents. The Municipal Health Bureau says that the nurses will work in hospitals or "health service centers" in urban and rural settings, presumably all in the Beijing area. The piece explains that the capital city is the first in China to "conduct organized training for community nurses."

The Beijing program would appear to be a promising way to improve preventative and primary care and health maintenance. Nurses are skilled at providing community care, whether they are based in health centers, schools, workplaces, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, in many areas and settings, public health nurses face increasingly tight budgets and inadequate resources. This can pose a real threat to community health. See our previous pieces on the vital work of public health nurses on Long Island and in the Louisiana Bayou.

Beijing is not alone in seeking a strong community health program. Cuba reportedly has a program in which nurse-physician teams live in assigned communities, caring for up to 150 families (450-500 people). This seems far more rigorous than the model Beijing is planning. The Cuban teams are focused on early identification and treatment of illnesses, as well as prevention education. Read more about the impressive Cuban health system in the March 2007 American Journal of Nursing article "Correspondence from Abroad: The Cuban Paradox," by Susan E. Birch MBA, RN, and Linda Norlander MS, RN.

We thank People's Daily Online and Xinhua for coverage of this important program.

See the article "Every 2,000 Beijingers to have a community nurse by 2008" by Xinhua posted on People's Daily Online on December 25, 2006.