Health in China

See also Healthcare in China.

Post-1949 history

An emphasis on public health and preventive treatment characterized health policy from the beginning of the 1950s. At that time the party began to mobilize the population to engage in mass "patriotic health campaigns" aimed at improving the low level of environmental sanitation and hygiene and attacking certain diseases. One of the best examples of this approach was the mass assaults on the "four pests"—rats, sparrows, flies, and mosquitoes—and on schistosoma-carrying snails. Particular efforts were devoted in the health campaigns to improving water quality through such measures as deep-well construction and human-waste treatment. Only in the larger cities had human waste been centrally disposed. In the countryside, where "night soil" has always been collected and applied to the fields as fertilizer, it was a major source of disease. Since the 1950s, rudimentary treatments such as storage in pits, composting, and mixture with chemicals have been implemented. As a result of preventive efforts, such epidemic diseases as cholera, bubonic plague, typhoid fever, and scarlet fever have almost been eradicated. The mass mobilization approach proved particularly successful in the fight against syphilis, which was reportedly eliminated by the 1960s. The incidence of other infectious and parasitic diseases was reduced and controlled.

Political turmoil and famine following the failure of the Great Leap Forward led to starvation of 20 million people in China. Beginning in 1961 the recovery had more moderate policies inaugurated by President Liu Shaoqi ended starvation and improved nutrition. The coming of the Cultural Revolution weakened epidemic control, causing a rebound in epidemic diseases and malnutrition in some areas.

Barefoot doctors were a good contribution to primary health systems in China during the Cultural Revolution (1964–1976). It encompasses all principles stated in primary health care. Community participation is possible because the team is composed from village health workers in the area. There’s equity because it was more available and combined western and tradition medicines. Intersectoral coordination is achieved by preventative measures rather than curative. Lastly it’s comprehensive using rural practices rather than urban ones.[1]

The "barefoot doctor system" was based in the people's communes. With the disappearance of the people's communes, the barefoot doctor system lost its base and funding. The decollectivization of agriculture resulted in a decreased desire on the part of the rural populations to support the collective welfare system, of which health care was a part. In 1984 surveys showed that only 40 to 45 percent of the rural population was covered by an organized cooperative medical system, as compared with 80 to 90 percent in 1979.

This shift entailed a number of important consequences for rural health care. The lack of financial resources for the cooperatives resulted in a decrease in the number of barefoot doctors, which meant that health education and primary and home care suffered and that in some villages sanitation and water supplies were checked less frequently. Also, the failure of the cooperative health care system limited the funds available for continuing education for barefoot doctors, thereby hindering their ability to provide adequate preventive and curative services. The costs of medical treatment increased, deterring some patients from obtaining necessary medical attention. If the patients could not pay for services received, then the financial responsibility fell on the hospitals and commune health centers, in some cases creating large debts.

Consequently, in the post-Mao era of modernization, the rural areas were forced to adapt to a changing health care environment. Many barefoot doctors went into private practice, operating on a fee-for-service basis and charging for medication. But soon farmers demanded better medical services as their incomes increased, bypassing the barefoot doctors and going straight to the commune health centers or county hospitals. A number of barefoot doctors left the medical profession after discovering that they could earn a better living from farming, and their services were not replaced. The leaders of brigades, through which local health care was administered, also found farming to be more lucrative than their salaried positions, and many of them left their jobs. Many of the cooperative medical programs collapsed. Farmers in some brigades established voluntary health-insurance programs but had difficulty organizing and administering them.

Their income for many basic medical services limited by regulations, Chinese grassroots health care providers have supported themselves by charging for giving injections and selling medicines. This has led to a serious problem of disease spread through health care as patients received too many injections and injections by unsterilized needles. Corruption and disregard for the rights of patients have become serious problems in the Chinese health care system.

The Chinese economist, Yang Fan, wrote in 2001 that lip service being given to the old socialist health care system and deliberately ignoring and failing to regulate the actual private health care system is a serious failing of the Chinese health care system. "The old argument that "health is a kind of welfare to save lives and assist the injured" is so far removed from reality that things are really more like its opposite. The welfare health system supported by public funds essentially exists in name only. People have to pay for most medical services on their own. Considering health to be still a "welfare activity" has for some time been a major obstacle to the development of proper physician - patient relationship and to the law applicable to that relationship."[2]

Despite the decline of the public health care system during the first decade of the reform era, Chinese health improved sharply as a result of greatly improved nutrition, especially in rural areas, and the recovery of the epidemic control system, which had been neglected during the Cultural Revolution.

Health Indicators

Some measures used to indicate health include Total Fertility Rate, Infant Mortality Rate, Life Expectancy, Crude Birth and Death Rate. As of 2017, China has a Total Fertility Rate of 1.6 children born per woman, an Infant Mortality rate of 10 deaths per 1000 live births, Crude Birth Rate of 13 births per 1000 people and a Death Rate of 7 deaths per 1000 people[3][4]. Since 1949, China had a huge improvement in population's health. There are health related parameters:

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2011
Life expectancy 41.6 31.6 62.7 66.1 69.5 72.1 75.0
Total Fertility Rate 5.3 4.3 5.7 2.3 2.5 1.5 1.7
Infant Mortality Rate 195.0 190.0 79.0 47.2 42.2 30.2 12.9
Under 5 Mortality Rate/Child mortality 317.1 309.0 111 61.3 54.0 36.9 14.9
Maternal Mortality Ratio 164.5 88.0 57.5 26.5
  • data from[5]

In general, all indices showed improvement except the drop around 1960 due to the failure of the Great Leap Forward, which led to starvation of tens of millions of people. From 1950 to 2012, life expectancy nearly doubled (41.6-75.1). Total Fertility Rate changed from 5.3 to 1.7 which mainly caused by One-child policy. Infant Mortality rate and Under-5 mortality rate went down sharply. Though there is no data from 1963 to 1967, we can see the trend. The gap between IMR and U5MR became smaller and smaller, which indicates health in children has been promoted. Maternal Mortality Ratio isn't showed in the graph due to having insufficient data, but it did go down from 164.5(1980) to 26.5(2011).

One-Child Policy

Created in 1979, under Deng Xiaoping, the One-Child Policy incentivized families to have children later and to only have one child or risk penalization.[6] The One-Child Policy was a program created by the Chinese government as a reaction to the increasing population during the 1970s, that was thought to have negatively impacted China's economic growth. Implementation of the program included rewarding families who followed the program, fining families who resisted the policy, offering birth control/ contraceptives, and in some cases forced abortions.[7] The policy was unevenly implemented throughout China and was easier established in urban areas rather than rural, because of ideals about family size and gender preferences. Prior to the One-Child Policy, the Chinese government had encouraged families to have more children in order to increase the future workforce, however, this promotion made the population of China in the 1970s increase at an alarming rate.[8] Additionally, voluntary programs, involving family planning and contraceptive use, were proposed before the One-Child Policy was fully enforced.[7]

The One-Child Policy was successful in halting China's increasing population and decreased both the birth rate and population, However, the harsh enforcement of the policy created long-term changes to some of China's health indicators. For instance, favoring males over female children lead to many forced abortions, infanticide and abandoned female children which have led to an imbalance of men to women in China.[9] Additionally, birth rates and rate of natural increase have decreased as a result of the One-Child Policy[10]

Other Consequences of the One-Child Policy include difficulties accessing education and employment as a result of being an undocumented birth.[7]

Dependency Ratio

China's dependency ratio is unfavorable because of the policy and its elderly population (65+) will outgrow the working aged people. The elderly population in China is highly reliant on the working aged people for support and the number of dependents (children 0-14, adults 65+) are increasing compared to the number of working aged people. China's population is aging and the number of children born is less than the replacement rate.[10]

Medical issues in China


Smoking related illnesses killed 1.2 million in the People's Republic of China; however, the state tobacco monopoly, the China National Tobacco Corporation, supplies 7 to 10% of government revenues, as of 2011, 600 billion yuan, about 100 billion US dollars.[11]

Sex education, contraception, and women's health

Sex education lags in China due to cultural conservatism. From ancient China to the first half of the 20th century, formal sex education was not taught. Instead, a woman's parents were mostly responsible for her sex education after she is wed.[12] Many Chinese feel that sex education should be limited to biological science. Combined with migration of young unmarried women to the cities, lack of knowledge of contraception has resulted in increasing numbers of abortions by young women.[13]

The Basic Health Services Project piloted strategies to ensure equitable access to China's rural health system; health outcomes for women improved significantly, with substantial declines in maternal mortality due to increased coverage of maternal health services.[14]


Although not identified until later, China’s first case of a new, highly contagious disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), occurred in Guangdong in November 2002, and within three months the Ministry of Health reported 300 SARS cases and five deaths in the province. Dr. Jiang Yanyong exposed the level of danger the SARS outbreak posed to China.[15][16] By May 2003, some 8,000 cases of SARS had been reported worldwide; about 66 percent of the cases and 349 deaths occurred in China alone. By early summer 2003, the SARS epidemic had ceased. A vaccine was developed and first-round testing on human volunteers completed in 2004.

The 2002 SARS in China demonstrated at once the decline of the PRC epidemic reporting system, the deadly consequences of secrecy on health matters and, on the positive side, the ability of the Chinese central government to command a massive mobilization of resources once its attention is focused on one particular issue. Despite the suppression of news regarding the outbreak during the early stages of the epidemic, the outbreak was soon contained and cases of SARS failed to emerge.[17] Obsessive secrecy seriously delayed the isolation of SARS by Chinese scientists.[18] On 18 May 2004, the World Health Organization announced the PRC free of further cases of SARS.[19]

Hepatitis B

Work with the CDC has created goals of decelerating the spread of Hepatitis B through Immunization efforts[20]


The AIDS disaster of Henan in the mid-1990s is estimated to be the largest man-made health catastrophe, affecting five-hundred thousand to one million persons. It was also in Hebei, Anhui, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hubei and Guizhou.[21] HIV was transmitted via blood sale. Blood plasma mixture from several persons was returned so that same person could give blood up to 11 times a day.[22] The disaster was only recognized in 2000 and found out abroad in 2001. Pensioner Gao Yaojie sold her house to deliver data leaflets of HIV to people, while officials tried to prevent her. Some local officials and politicians were involved in the blood sale. In 2003 only 2.6% of Chinese knew that a condom could protect from AIDS.[23]

China blocked by police protest over ineffective drug treatments, cancelled meetings on HIV groups, closured office of the AIDS organization, and detained or put under house arrest prominent AIDS activists such as 2005 Reebok Human Rights Award winner Li Dan, eighty-year-old AIDS activist Dr. Gao Yaojie, and the husband-and-wife HIV activist team of Hu Jia (activist) and Zeng Jinyan.[24]

China, similar to other nations with migrant and socially mobile populations, has experienced increased incidences of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). By the mid-1980s, some Chinese physicians recognized HIV and AIDS as a serious health threat but considered it to be a "foreign problem". As of mid-1987 only two Chinese citizens had died from AIDS and monitoring of foreigners had begun. Following a 1987 regional World Health Organization meeting, the Chinese government announced it would join the global fight against AIDS, which would involve quarantine inspection of people entering China from abroad, medical supervision of people vulnerable to AIDS, and establishment of AIDS laboratories in coastal cities. Within China, the rapid increase in venereal disease, prostitution and drug addiction, internal migration since the 1980s and poorly supervised plasma collection practices, especially by the Henan provincial authorities, created conditions for a serious outbreak of HIV in the early 1990s.[25][26][27]

As of 2005 about 1 million Chinese have been infected with HIV, leading to about 150,000 AIDS deaths. Projections are for about 10 million cases by 2010 if nothing is done. Effective preventive measures have become a priority at the highest levels of the government, but progress is slow. A promising pilot program exists in Gejiu partially funded by international donors.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in China, which has the world's second largest tuberculosis epidemic (after India). Progress in tuberculosis control was slow during the 1990s. Detection of tuberculosis had stagnated at around 30% of the estimated total of new cases, and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis was a major problem. These signs of inadequate tuberculosis control can be linked to a malfunctioning health system. Prevalent smoking aggravates its spread.


Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, was officially eliminated at the national level in China by 1982, meaning prevalence is lower than 1 in 100,000. There are 3,510 active cases today. Though leprosy has been brought under control in general, the situation in some areas is worsening, according to China’s Ministry of Health.[28]

Mental health

100 million Chinese people have mental illnesses that are varying degrees of intensity.[29] Currently, dilemmas such as human rights versus political control, community integration versus community control, diversity versus centrally, huge demand but inadequate services seem to challenge the further development of the mental health service in the PRC. China has 17,000 certified psychologists, which is ten percent of that of other developed countries per capita.[29]


In the 2000–2002 period, China had one of the highest per capita caloric intakes in Asia, second only to South Korea and higher than countries such as Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In 2003, daily per capita caloric intake was 2,940 (vegetable products 78%, animal products 22%); 125% of FAO recommended minimum requirement.

Malnutrition among rural children

China has been developing rapidly for the past 30 years. Though it has uplifted a huge number of people out of poverty, many social issues still remain unsolved. One of them is malnutrition among rural children in China. The problem has diminished but still remains a pertinent national issue. In a survey done in 1998, the stunting rate among children in China was 22 percent and was as high as 46 percent in poor provinces.[30][31] This shows the huge disparity between urban and rural areas. In 2002, Svedberg found that stunting rate in rural areas of China was 15 percent, reflecting that a substantial number of children still suffer from malnutrition.[32] Another study by Chen shows that malnutrition has dropped from 1990 to 1995 but regional differences are still huge, particularly in rural areas.[33]

In a recent report by The Rural Education Action Project on children in rural China, many were found to be suffering from basic health problems. 34% have iron deficiency anaemia and 40 percent are infected with intestinal worms.[34] Many of these children do not have proper or sufficient nutrition. Often, this causes them not being able to fully reap the benefits of education, which can be a ticket out of poverty.

One possible reason for poor nutrition in rural areas is that agricultural produce can fetch a decent price, and thus is often sold rather than kept for personal consumption. Rural families would not consume eggs that their hen lay but will sell it in the market for about 20 yuan per kilogram.[35] The money will then be spent on books or food like instant noodles which lack nutrition value compared to an egg. A girl named Wang Jing in China has a bowl of pork only once every five to six weeks, compared to urban children who have a vast array of food chains to choose from.

A survey conducted by China’s Ministry of Health showed the kind of food consumed by rural households. 30 percent consume meat less than once a month. 23 percent consume rice or egg less than once a month.

In a 2008 Report on Chinese Children Nutrition and Health Conditions, West China still has 7.6 million poor children who were shorter and weigh lesser than urban children. These rural children were also shorter by 4 centimetres and 0.6 kilograms lighter than World Health Organisation standards.[35] It can be concluded that children in West China still lack quality nutrition.

Epidemiological studies

The most comprehensive epidemiological study of nutrition ever conducted was the China-Oxford-Cornell Study on Dietary, Lifestyle and Disease Mortality Characteristics in 65 Rural Chinese Counties, known as the "China Project", which began in 1983.[36] Its findings are discussed in The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

Iodine deficiency

China has problems in certain western provinces in iodine deficiency.[37]

Infection from animals

The first known human contraction of Avian Influenza (bird flu), after contact with live poultry in February 2018, was diagnosed to a woman living in the Jiangsu Province of China.[38]

Pig-human transmission of the Streptococcus suis bacteria was reported in 2005, which led to 38 deaths in and around Sichuan province, an unusually high number. Although the bacteria exists in other pig rearing countries, the pig-human transmission has only been reported in China.[39]

Hygiene and sanitation

Many of China's water sources, including underground sources and rivers, have been heavily polluted because of industry and economic growth. Increased exposure to polluted water and air has created "cancer villages" and further health and environmental problems.[40] A majority of groundwater and shallow wells surveyed in China showed signs of heavy pollution, by measuring nitrate levels which indicate water contamination[40]

By 2002, 92 percent of the urban population and 8 percent of the rural population had access to an improved water supply, and 69 percent of the urban population and 32 percent of the rural population had access to improved sanitation facilities.

Although China has made great efforts of making sanitary facilities and safe water more accessible, there are water and sanitation disparities all over China. As of 2012, sanitary facilities were available to 69% of the Chinese people and 71% of water in China is piped, yet it is still difficult preserving drinking water that is affordable and efficient at a communal level. Additionally, water in both urban and rural areas of China are still vulnerable to disease, pollution, and contamination, with rural areas at higher risk of sewage contamination.[41]

The lack of sanitation in multiple areas of China has affected many student for decades. An absence of modern-day toilets and hand washing areas have directly affected students nationwide. The lack of reliable drinking water and sanitation areas, along with many others health issues, has directly led to 1/3 of young students in China having intestinal parasites.[42]

The Patriotic Health Campaign, first started in the 1950s, are campaigns aimed to improve sanitation and hygiene in China. UNICEF also plans to incorporate government programs and policies in order to improve normal health standards in China. The programs and policies are used to teach students about basic hygiene and form campaigns encouraging people to wash their hands with soap instead of water only.[42]

WHO in China

The World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution came into force on 7 April 1948, and China has been a Member since the beginning.

The WHO China office has increased its scope of activities significantly in recent years, especially following the major SARS outbreak of 2003. The role of WHO China is to provide support for the government's health programs, working closely with the Ministry of Health and other partners within the government, as well as with UN agencies and other organizations.

China's government with WHO assistance and support has strengthened public health in the nation. The current Five Year Plan incorporates public health in a significant way. The government has acknowledged that even as millions upon millions of citizens are prospering amid the country's economic boom, millions of others are lagging behind, with healthcare many cannot afford. The challenge for China is to strengthen its health care system across the spectrum, to reduce the disparities and create a more equitable situation regarding access to health care services for the population at large.

At the same time, in an ever-interconnected world, China has embraced its responsibility to global public health, including the strengthening of surveillance systems aimed at swiftly identifying and tackling the threat of infectious diseases such as SARS and avian influenza. Another major challenge is the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, a key priority for China.

The staff of the WHO Office in China are working with their national counterparts in the following areas:

In addition, WHO technical experts in specialty areas can be made available on a short-term basis, when requested by the Chinese government. China is an active, contributing member of WHO, and has made valuable contributions to global and regional health policy. Technical experts from China have contributed to WHO through their membership on various WHO technical expert advisory committees and groups.

See also


  1. ^ Cueto, Marcos, 2004. The ORIGINS of Primary Health Care and SELECTIVE Primary Health Care" Am J Public Health 94 (11) 1864-1874
  2. ^ "What Limits to Corruption in Health Care?" in April 2001 Viewpoint Voice of China translated on the U.S. Embassy Beijing website. Accessed 7 February 2007
  3. ^
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  5. ^ "Gapminder".
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  7. ^ a b c "one-child policy | Definition & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  8. ^ "BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Case study: China". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Case study: China". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  11. ^ Cheng Li (October 2012). "The Political Mapping of China's Tobacco Industry and Anti-Smoking Campaign" (PDF). John L. Thornton China Center Monograph Series. Brookings Institution (5). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2012. ...the tobacco industry is one of the largest sources of tax revenue for the Chinese government. Over the past decade, the tobacco industry has consistently contributed 7-10 percent of total annual central government revenues...
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Face of Abortion in China: A Young, Single Woman" article by Jim Yardley in the New York Times 13 April 2007
  14. ^ Huntingdon, Dale; Liu Yunguo, Liz Ollier, Gerry Bloom (January 2008). "Improving maternal health – lessons from the basic health services project in China" (PDF). DFID Briefing. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Kahn, Joseph (13 July 2007). "China Hero Doctor Who Exposed SARS Cover-Up Barred U.S. Trip For Rights Award". New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  16. ^ "The 2004 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service". Ramon Magsaysay Foundation. 31 August 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  17. ^ "After Its Epidemic Arrival, SARS Vanishes". 15 May 2005. Jim Yardley. Accessed 17 April 2006.
  18. ^ "Chinese Scientists Say SARS Efforts Stymied by Organizational Obstacles China Youth Daily interview with Chinese geneticist Yang Huanming and Chinese Academy of Sciences science policy researcher Chen Hao
  19. ^ "China’s latest SARS outbreak has been contained, but biosafety concerns remain". 18 May 2004. World Health Organization. Accessed 17 April 2006.
  20. ^ "CDC Global Health - China". 24 August 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  21. ^ Pekka Mykkänen, Kiina rynnistää huipulle, Gummerus/Nemo 2004, pages 314-318
  22. ^ Johan Björksten, I mittens rike, Det historiska och moderna Kina, Bilda förlag 2006, pages 190-191(in Swedish)
  23. ^ Pekka Mykkänen, Isonenä kurkistaa Kiinaan, Nemo 2006, pages. 145-147 (in Finnish)
  24. ^ China: Stop HIV Not People Living With HIV China Should Fulfill Promises Made to Global Fund, Respect Rights, Human Rights Watch November 2007
  25. ^ July 2001 compendium, U.S. Embassy Beijing website Recent Chinese Reports on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Accessed 23 May 2010 via Internet Archive of U.S. Embassy Beijing website.
  26. ^ "Revealing the Blood Wound of the Spread of AIDS in Henan Province". Archived from the original on 18 October 2002.
  27. ^ China Health News And the Henan Province Health Scandal Cover-up translation of a report by the PRC NGO Aizhi
  28. ^ Chen XS, Li WZ, Jiang C, Ye GY (2001). "Leprosy in China: epidemiological trends between 1949 and 1998". Bull. World Health Organ. 79 (4): 306–12. doi:10.1590/S0042-96862001000400007. PMC 2566398. PMID 11357209.
  29. ^ a b "And now the 50-minute hour: Mental health in China". The Economist. 18 August 2007. p. 35. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  30. ^ Park, A. and Wang, S., 2001. "China’s Poverty Statistics." China Economic Review 12:384–98
  31. ^ Park, A. and Zhang, L., 2000. "Mother’s Education and Child Health in China’s Poor Areas." Mimeo, University of Michigan Department of Economics
  32. ^ Svedberg, P. (2006) "Declining child malnutrition: a reassessment", International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 1336-46
  33. ^ Chen, C. 2000. "Fat Intake and Nutritional Status of Children in China." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72(Supplement):1368S–72S
  34. ^ The Rural Education Action Project - REAP, - a group of researchers from the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2008 – retrieved from on 11 February 2011
  35. ^ a b "West China county improves rural children health with free eggs". China Daily. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  36. ^ Brody, Jane E. "Huge Study Of Diet Indicts Fat And Meat", The New York Times, 8 May 1990.
  37. ^ Google search for "iodine deficiency in China"
  38. ^ "Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N4) virus – China". World Health Organization. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Streptococcus suis Outbreak, Swine and Human, China" Archived 2010-03-27 at the Wayback Machine August 2005. Veterinary Service. Accessed 17 April 2006.
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  42. ^ a b "Sanitation and Hygiene - UNICEF China Protecting children's rights". Retrieved 25 March 2017.

External links


2009 Shaanxi dog-free zone

The 2009 Shanxi dog-free zone is a goal by the government of Shanxi Province in north central People's Republic of China (PRC) to begin killing large number of dogs as part of a campaign to stop the spread of rabies in the region via stray dogs attacking humans.

Barefoot doctor

Barefoot doctors (Chinese: 赤脚医生; pinyin: chìjiǎo yīshēng) are farmers who received minimal basic medical and paramedical training and worked in rural villages in China. Their purpose was to bring health care to rural areas where urban-trained doctors would not settle. They promoted basic hygiene, preventive healthcare, and family planning and treated common illnesses. The name comes from southern farmers, who would often work barefoot in the rice paddies.

In the 1930s, the Rural Reconstruction Movement had pioneered village health workers trained in basic health as part of a coordinated system, and there had been provincial experiments after 1949, but after Mao Zedong's healthcare speech in 1965 the concept was developed and institutionalized. In his speech, Mao Zedong criticized the urban bias of the medical system of the time, and called for a system with greater focus on the well being of the rural population.

China's health policy changed quickly after this speech and in 1968, the barefoot doctors program became integrated into national policy. These programs were called "rural cooperative medical systems" (RCMS) and strove to include community participation with the rural provision of health services.

Barefoot doctors became a part of the Cultural Revolution, which also radically diminished the influence of the Ministry of Health, which was dominated by Western-trained doctors. With the onset of market-oriented reforms after the Cultural Revolution, political support for barefoot doctors dissipated, and "health-care crises of peasants substantially increased after the system broke down in the 1980s."

Cardiovascular disease in China

Cardiac disease in China is on the rise. Though incidences of heart disease have increased faster in the city than in the countryside, rural morbidity and mortality rates are now on the rise as well. Health statistics shows that the ischemic heart disease mortality rate in rural China has approximately doubled since 1988.Unlike in developed countries, there is no preventive or primary health care system in place to stop the rise of cardiac disease. The real extent of heart disease in rural China is unknown because statistics are fraught with error and bias due to difficulties in ascertaining cause of death in places where 90% die without seeing a doctor. Therefore, there is a need to ascertain the real incidence and prevalence of heart disease and to develop adequate preventive and primary care in the Chinese countryside.

China Health and Nutrition Survey

The China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), an ongoing international collaborative project between the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was designed to examine the effects of the health, nutrition, and family planning policies and programs implemented by national and local governments and to see how the social and economic transformation of Chinese society is affecting the health and nutritional status of its population. The impact on nutrition and health behaviors and outcomes is gauged by changes in community organizations and programs as well as by changes in sets of household and individual economic, demographic, and social factors.

The survey was conducted by an international team of researchers whose backgrounds include nutrition, public health, economics, sociology, Chinese studies, and demography. The survey took place over a three-day period using a multistage, random cluster process to draw a sample of about 4,400 households with a total of 19,000 individuals in nine provinces that vary substantially in geography, economic development, public resources, and health indicators. In addition, detailed community data were collected in surveys of food markets, health facilities, family planning officials, and other social services and community leaders.

China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study

The China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) is a longitudinal survey being conducted by the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University with Professor Yaohui Zhao of Peking University serving as Principal Investigator and Professors John Strauss of the University of Southern California and Albert Park of HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies serving as co-Principal Investigators.

China–Cornell–Oxford Project

The China–Cornell–Oxford Project was a large observational study conducted throughout the 1980s in rural China, jointly funded by Cornell University, the University of Oxford, and the government of China. In May 1990, The New York Times termed the study "the Grand Prix of epidemiology".The first two major studies were led by T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell, who summarized the results in his book, The China Study (2005). Other lead researchers were Chen Junshi, Deputy Director of Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene at the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in Beijing, Richard Peto of the University of Oxford, and Li Junyao of the China Cancer Institute.The study examined the diets, lifestyle, and disease characteristics of 6,500 people in 65 rural Chinese counties, comparing the prevalence of disease characteristics, excluding causes of death such as accidents.

Chronic disease in China

Chronic, non-communicable diseases account for an estimated 80% of total deaths and 70% of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in China. Cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are the leading causes of both death and of the burden of disease, and exposure to risk factors is high: more than 300 million men smoke cigarettes and 160 million adults are hypertensive, most of whom are not being treated. An obesity epidemic is imminent, with more than 20% of children aged 7–17 years in big cities now overweight or obese. Rates of death from chronic disease in middle-aged people are higher in China than in some high-income countries.In China, as in many other parts of the world, the government has focused on communicable diseases—however, China now has a "double burden" of disease. The prevention of chronic diseases is now receiving a national response commensurate with the burden.

The national cancer prevention and control plan (2004–10) is being implemented, and a national chronic disease prevention and control plan has been completed (in late-2005). Progress has been made in some areas, with current smoking prevalence in men declining at about 1% per year for a decade, and even better results in large demonstration programs. Much remains to be done, and resources and sustainability are major issues. However, the surveillance and intervention mechanisms needed to ameliorate the increasing burden of chronic diseases are developing rapidly, taking account of the lessons learned over the past two decades.

It is said that about 25% of all cancer deaths globally - across planet Earth - are of Chinese persons in Mainland China and that one-fifth (20%) of all deaths inside China are from one or more cancers.


Disease surveillance in China

Surveillance for communicable diseases is the main public health surveillance activity in China. Currently, the disease surveillance system in China has three major components:

National Disease Reporting System (NDRS): The system covers the entire population (1.3 billion persons) living in all the provinces, prefectures, and counties that make up mainland China. Thirty-five communicable diseases are reportable under this system.

Nationwide Disease Surveillance Points (DSPs): This surveillance system, comprising 145 reporting sites selected by stratified cluster random sampling, covers a 1% representative sample of China's population.

Surveillance system for specific infectious diseases, occupational diseases, food poisoning, etc.There are 35 notifiable infectious diseases, which are divided into Classes A, B, and C. The functions of the surveillance include explaining the natural history of infectious diseases, describing the distribution of case occurrence, triggering disease-control effort, monitoring epidemic of infectious diseases during natural disasters, predicting and controlling epidemics and providing the base of policy adjustment.

Data collected through the disease surveillance network serve as the basis for formulating health policies and devising strategies for preventing disease. A computerized reporting system for notifiable diseases has been established that links China's 30 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. Mechanisms for providing timely feedback to units that report data and for systematically assessing the quality of those data are important attributes of this system.

Gutter oil

Gutter oil (Chinese: 地沟油; pinyin: dìgōu yóu, or 餿水油; sōushuǐ yóu) is a term used in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to describe illicit cooking oil which has been recycled from waste oil collected from sources such as restaurant fryers, grease traps, slaughterhouse waste and sewage from sewer drains.

Hepatitis B in China

Hepatitis B is endemic in China. Of the 350 million individuals worldwide infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), one-third reside in China. As of 2006 China has immunized 11.1 million children in its poorest provinces as part of several programs initiated by the Chinese government and as part of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). However, the effects of these programs have yet to reach levels of immunization that would limit the spread of hepatitis B effectively.

Iodine deficiency in China

Iodine deficiency is a widespread problem in western, southern and eastern parts of China, as their iodized salt intake level is much lower than the average national level. Iodine deficiency is a range of disorders that affect many different populations. It is estimated that IDDs affect between 800 million and 2 billion people worldwide; countries have spent millions of dollars in implementing iodized salt as a means to counteract the iodine deficiencies prevalent today. With China accounting for "40% of the total population", it bears a large portion of those who are iodine deficient.

Iodine is a micronutrient the body needs to properly produce thyroid hormones. The human body is not able to produce it, and iodine is an essential nutrient. Iodine is not readily available in many foods, thus making it difficult for many people to obtain it. One particular source, found in great supply, is ocean water although it is not an effective dietary source. Iodine deficiency diseases (IDDs) are able to develop before birth, so it is crucial for all populations to have sufficient levels of the micronutrient and prevent such diseases from developing early on.

Leprosy in China

Leprosy was said to be first recognized in the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt and India, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, was officially eliminated at the national level in China by 1982, meaning prevalence is lower than 1 in 100,000. There are 3,510 active cases today. Though leprosy has been brought under control in general, the situation in some areas is worsening, according to China’s Ministry of Health. In the past, leprosy sufferers were ostracized by their communities as the disease was incurable, disfiguring and wrongly thought to be highly infectious.

List of Chinese administrative divisions by life expectancy

This is a list of the first-level administrative divisions of the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), including all provinces, autonomous regions, special administrative regions and municipalities, in order of their life expectancy in 2010.

The figures are from the 2013 Yearbook published by the Bureau of Statistics of the PRC. The Beijing and Shanghai figures are 2015 data from List of Chinese cities by life expectancy. The Hong Kong and Macau figures are 2016 figures from the CIA World Factbook. Note that there is a 2-year or 3-year gap between those figures.

Mental health in China

Mental health in China is a growing issue, with experts estimating that 173 million people live with a mental disorder. Social stigma related to religious and cultural beliefs of upholding social harmony and maintaining personal reputation contribute to a lack of desire to seek treatment. While the Chinese government has committed to expanding mental health care services and legislation, the country struggles with a lack of mental health professionals and access to specialists in rural areas.

Obesity in China

Obesity in China is a major health concern according to the WHO, with overall rates of obesity between 5% and 6% for the country, but greater than 20% in some cities where fast food is popular. This is a dramatic change from times when China experienced famine as a result from ineffective agriculture plans such as the Great Leap Forward.

Patriotic Health Campaign

The Patriotic Health Campaign, first started in the 1950s, are campaigns aimed to improve sanitation, hygiene, as well as attack diseases in the People's Republic of China.

Stroke in China

Recent epidemiologic studies confirm that stroke is the most frequent cause of death in the People's Republic of China, with an incidence more than fivefold that of myocardial infarction. Intracerebral hemorrhage causes about one third of all strokes, nearly three times the frequency in North American stroke registries. A marked regional variation in stroke incidence exists, with a threefold higher stroke incidence in northern than in southern Chinese cities, suggesting important environmental or dietary influences. Stroke treatment often involves a combination of modern and traditional herbal medicine; the latter may modify platelet aggregation and blood viscosity. Stroke, particularly intracerebral hemorrhage, is the most frequent and important vascular disorder in China.

China reports more patients with stroke than anywhere else in the world. While there is still a great deal of unknown information, stroke research has been making great progress in recent years, such as in the areas of clinical research, population and genetic epidemiology, brain ischemia/reperfusion exploring, leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), neural stem cell and stroke, neuroprotective treatment for stroke, clinical therapy test in stroke, rehabilitation and prevention.

Cities and towns in China have integrated systems for registering and investigating strokes. Chinese researchers have followed closely the international level of stroke treatment with a forward position in neural stem cell. Traditional Chinese drugs have featured effects on neuroprotective treatment for stroke which has also been investigated. Chinese scientists have suggested a new way of dividing neuroprotectors in stroke. The clinical therapy test with urokinase and defibrase for cerebral infarction in China is effective and relatively safe, yet the original papers published by Chinese researchers and clinical effects for patient treatment still need to be improved and updated.

The China Study

The China Study is a book by T. Colin Campbell and his son, Thomas M. Campbell II. It was first published in the United States in January 2005 and had sold over one million copies as of October 2013, making it one of America's best-selling books about nutrition.The China Study examines the link between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bowel cancer. The authors conclude that people who eat a predominantly whole-food, plant-based diet—avoiding animal products as a main source of nutrition, including beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and milk, and reducing their intake of processed foods and refined carbohydrates—will escape, reduce, or reverse the development of numerous diseases. They write that "eating foods that contain any cholesterol above 0 mg is unhealthy".The book recommends sunshine exposure or dietary supplements to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, and supplements of vitamin B12 in case of complete avoidance of animal products. It criticizes low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet, which include restrictions on the percentage of calories derived from carbohydrates The authors are critical of reductionist approaches to the study of nutrition, whereby certain nutrients are blamed for disease, as opposed to studying patterns of nutrition and the interactions between nutrients.The book is based on the China–Cornell–Oxford Project, a 20-year study—described by The New York Times as "the Grand Prix of epidemiology"—conducted by the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Cornell University, and the University of Oxford. T. Colin Campbell was one of the study's directors. It looked at mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases from 1973–75 in 65 counties in China; the data was correlated with 1983–84 dietary surveys and blood work from 100 people in each county. The research was conducted in those counties because they had genetically similar populations that tended, over generations, to live and eat in the same way in the same place. The study concluded that counties with a high consumption of animal-based foods in 1983–84 were more likely to have had higher death rates from "Western" diseases as of 1973–75, while the opposite was true for counties that ate more plant-based foods.

Women's health in China

Women’s health in China refers to the health of women in People’s Republic of China (PRC), which is different from men’s health in China in many ways. Health, in general, is defined in the World Health Organization (WHO) constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". The circumstance of Chinese women’s health is highly contingent upon China’s historical contexts and economic development during the past seven decades. A historical perspective on women's health in China entails examining the healthcare policies and its outcomes for women in the pre-reform period (1949-1978) and the post-reform period since 1978.

In general, women’s health in China has seen significant improvements since the foundation of People’s Republic of China in 1949, witnessed by improvements in multiple indexes such as Infant Mortality Rate(IMR), Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI), etc. However, due to traditional Chinese ideology on gender inequality and complexities of Chinese political system, challenges in terms of many aspects of women’s health, such as reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, are still mounting.

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