Beijing is the healthiest city in China, reaping the benefits of an overhaul of the country’s healthcare system, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

That is one of the key findings of the EIU’s China Healthy Province Index (CHPI) which it claims will help “policymakers, businesses and others to better grasp this complex landscape”. The report comes at a time when having overtaken Japan last year as the world’s second-biggest healthcare market, China is catching up the USA, with an annual healthcare spending forecast expected to reach nearly $900 billion by 2018.

The CHPI profiles each of China’s 31 provinces, based on 25 indicators, and Beijing came top. Although the capital scored poorly against other provinces in terms of health status, in overall terms it has the best aligned relationship between healthcare supply and demand because of the quality of its hospitals, large number of medical staff, and high levels of public and private healthcare spending.

Following Beijing comes Shanghai, with the “rich yet less polluted metropolis” scoring highly for status and financing. Zhejiang, which is also on the Yangtze River Delta, also recorded robust scores for status and awareness, as well as an adequate level of financing support.
The EIU said that one of the surprising outcomes of the index was the strong performance of a number of poorer provinces, such as Qinghai and Gansu, as “sparse populations in such regions ease pressure on local healthcare systems”. At the bottom of the CHPI are Henan (28th) and Anhui (31st) as “access to healthcare and funding in these highly populated and rapidly developing regions are low, while local demand is booming”.