With initial support from the Harvard China Fund, the WHO Collaborating Center in Pharmaceutical Policy at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Boston, USA began to expand the Medicines and Insurance Coverage (MedIC) Initiative to China. MedIC is an interdisciplinary global partnership between universities, health care organizations, governments, and insurance systems focused on strengthening capacity for medicines policy decision making in health care organizations and insurance schemes, and conducting focused research on policies to improve medicines access, affordability and use.
Through capacity building and applied research collaborations, MedIC seeks to support the development of evidence for policy decision making in China on issues such as: optimal reimbursement policies for medicines in the urban health insurance system; incentives to encourage cost-effective prescribing for insured members according to standard treatment guidelines; and a minimum medicines benefit package for members of the new Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme.
A first activity of MedIC in China was the MedIC Course in Pharmaceutical Policy Analysis for policy decision makers from hospitals, health insurance systems, and others interested in medicines policy issues, held at Xuan Wu Hospital of Capital Medical University, #45, Chang-chun Street, Xuan-wu District, Beijing, China in March 2009. The course was organized by the WHO Collaborating Center in Pharmaceutical Policy; Harvard School of Public Health; Capital University of Medical Sciences; Xuan-wu Hospital; the Beijing Public Health Insurance Committee; the Ministry of Health; and the World Health Organization in China
Forty-eight leading pharmacists, physicians, and administrators from eight Beijing teaching hospitals and leading analysis and policy development staff from the Beijing Public Health Insurance participated. Thirteen experts in pharmaceutical policy research and pharmacoepidemiology from Australia, China, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, and the U.S. facilitated the course. Conducted in English with sequential translation into Chinese, the 9-day highly interactive course consisted of brief lectures, small and large group case discussions, and small group hands-on analyses of health systems data. In multi-disciplinary teams, participants selected a specific medicines policy issue in their systems and designed medicine policy interventions and evaluations for implementation after the course.
We plan to continue to support the development of a cohort of trainers in China who will adapt and implement MedIC courses on a large scale for other students, academics, public health officials, and policy makers. We also offer longer-term training opportunities in pharmaceutical policy analysis at Harvard for qualified Chinese colleagues.
We gratefully acknowledge the following organizations which supported the development and implementation of the first MedIC Course in Beijing: Xuan-wu Hospital of Capital University of Medical Sciences; the Beijing Public Health Insurance Committee; and the World Health Organization in Beijing, China; the Harvard China Fund of Harvard University; the China Initiative of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA; and the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (now Department of Population Medicine) of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, USA.