China will improve its support system for people with extreme difficulties, according to a guideline on the issue released by the State Council on Wednesday.
The guideline covers people who are either incapable of supporting themselves or whose caregivers are not capable, including senior citizens, physically challenged people and minors under the age of 16 whose caregivers are not capable.
According to official statistics, there are over 5.8 million people who fit the description.
"Without sources of income or the ability to work, basic care from family, and fitness, these people are indeed the neediest in our society today," said Zuo Ting, professor at China Agricultural University.
Zuo said the guideline helped align the scope covered by the support system across provinces. Previously, for example, children with difficulties in Hunan Province were left out of the system.
Aimed at resolving problems and meeting the basic demands of these groups, the support system will benefit more people, the guideline said.
The guideline further elaborated on the system, stating support will come in the form of daily necessities as well as basic care services for those unable to take care of themselves.
The newly published guideline stressed the importance of setting up institutions with enough staff to support the needy in groups.
At present, fewer than one third of the neediest people are supported in institutions, while the rest live at home, most of the time alone, which adds potential risks.
In addition, new measures will ensure the effectiveness of the system, with local governments paying more attention to the issue, as well as encouraging more charity donations and voluntary services.
According to the guideline, ensuring the basic livelihood of the groups plays a significant part in China's efforts to eradicate poverty and build a well-off society.