|Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, meets with 18 model rural doctors in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 5, 2013. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)
BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has called for improvements in rural doctors' lives and working environments, describing them as "guardians" of the country's grassroots medical service network.
During a symposium with 18 model doctors on Saturday, Li said, "You've been doing the most noble-minded deeds in isolated and arduous regions... You fully demonstrate benevolence as all doctors should... You are the ones that inspire the mass."
The practitioners were dubbed "the most beautiful rural doctors" after the media reported their devotion to treating people in mountains, deserts and other tough areas despite their own health problems, poverty and, in some cases, disabilities.
Currently, more than 1.1 million rural doctors are serving hundreds of millions of farmers and herders across the vast countryside.
During the symposium, the doctors voiced their concerns including medical risks, lack of study opportunities, outdated equipment, low incomes and the absence of retirement insurance.
Urging related departments to investigate such issues and implement favorable policies for rural doctors, Li highlighted the role of medical workers, especially practitioners at grassroots levels, in passing on the benefits of the country's medical reform to the people.
According to Li, medical reform must go deeper to strengthen the capacities of health institutions at grassroots levels, and related departments should help improve rural doctors' work environments and solve their problems as they are the "guardians" of the grassroots medical network.
Li told the doctors to take care of themselves during work and expressed his hope that their lives will get better.