public healthcare and hospitals in china

Chinese hospitals and clinics

It is never nice to fall sick or ill in a strange country. What happens if you do and need to seek medical help? Let us provide you with some useful medical advize and tips and how to seek medical help or assistance in China.

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Chinese Medical Care
The Chinese medical system comprises mostly of public and private hospitals. Small and personalized clinics are still uncommon.

Most hospitals in China practize the Western medical treatment system while a good percentage practizes Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Increasingly, a large percentage of hospitals also practize a mixture of Western and Chinese medicine.

Seeing a doctor in China
In large Chinese cities such as Shanghai or Beijing, there are increasingly a large number of private clinics that are owned and managed by Western doctors or Chinese doctors who have graduated from a country such as USA or UK. Their treatment and management of patients are along those as practized in these western countries but their fees tend to be high and most of their patients are expatriates working in China and the occasional Western tourist.

Seek out the any English newspaper or magazines available and you'll usually find an advertisement for a Western clinic. Or ask any China-based expatriate for a recommendation.

Most Chinese will visit a local hospital. If your company doesn't cover medical expenses or you can't find a Western clinic because you are in a much smaller town, you can also try visiting a local Chinese hospital.

Chinese medical care system is improving all the time but if you need to visit a doctor in a local hospital, especially in a small city, do be prepared for some cultural shock.

Most hospitals do not speak English. You will need to bring a friend along who does. Local hospitals are still pretty poor in the area of personal privacy and so do not be surprised if you share a consulting room with more than one patient.

Treatment are mostly Western medical techniques including diagnosis, medication, injection or the neccessary scans. However, medications can be a mixture of Western and Chinese drugs.

If you need to be hospitalized, you may be shocked by the low hygiene standard practized in the smaller hospitals and privacy is always a problem as you are likely to share a ward with a few other patients. Visiting hours tend not to be observed and some patients has many visitors that may turned a shared ward into a noisy room. You may find such lapse of privacy a major irritant.

Leading medical research in China
China has a long history of medicine and medical research. Today, it is beginning to stake it's claim on leading medical research with some highly regarded health research breakthrough including gene therapy treatment for cancer victims.

Dr Lin Dinggang is a famous medical doctor trained in John Hopkins hospital in USA and returned to China to continue serving in the area of gene therapy reseach and treatment for cancer. Dr Lin has achieved much success for the use of Gendicine in treating and fighting cancer with gene treatment. Dr Lin has cured many patients of advanced cancer that many other doctors and hospitals has given up hope on. In fact, Dr Lin is is so famous in successful treatment of advanced and last stage cancer that many foreign patients has made their own way to his hospital in Beijing, China.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
If you are interested, you may want to visit a hospital or a clinic that specializes in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This include Chinese diagnosis and treatment and may include accupuncture, massage, herbal medicines, heat treatment etc.

TCM has gained international recognition as a viable alternative health treatment method and is even recognized by World Health Organization for it's effectiveness in the treatment of certain forms of illnesses and diseases.

TCM believes in the ying and yang of the body and it is usually described as ri (heaty) or liang (cooling). When the heaty and cooling elements of the body is not in balance, we fall sick. Chinese herbal medicine is henced prescribed accordingly to the body condition.

If you have a minor ailment such as a cough or flu, Chinese medicine (TCM) is surprisingly effective. Simply enter a medical hall in the streets (looks like a common pharmacy) and they are likely to have a TCM doctor in attendance. Tell them your problem and they are likely to prescribe some herbs for you to boil and drink. Alternatively, they may also have tablet forms of herbal medicine. Take according to prescription and you may be surprised how fast you can recover.

However, if you have a major injury or illness, it is always better to seek Western medical help immediately.

Chinese health belief
Chinese believe in the adage that prevention is always better than cure. Hence, it is very common to see Chinese practize Qi-Gong or Tai-Chi(forms of Chinese martial arts) in parks and gardens to achieve good internal health and strength. You may find further advice in this interesting book.

If you do not have time to pick up such skills, the Chinese always believe that Tui-Na (a form of Chinese massage) and reflexology (Foot massage) can go a long way towards maintaining good health.

The Chinese has a long tradition for Chinese Kung Fu or martial arts. Training injuries are very common and herbal plasters and ointments to treat pain and ache are very popular and effective. If you have pain, arthritis, stiff neck, backache and other pain problem, do visit

Common health tips for China
The best method to avoid seeing a doctor is not to fall ill. When travelling, get plenty of rest and sleep. Drink plenty of fluid, but in China, try to avoid drinking directly from the water tap. Drink from bottled drinks and always boil the water if your only choice is the tap.

Always eat in a restaurant that has plenty of customers. Avoid restaurants that do not have customers and certainly avoid street stalls.

For more information about Chinese culture and people, check out this interesting China Book. Or email us for further information.