Health in China

Health in China

5% of Chinese people lack the card to access basic social services
America calls itself the land of opportunity. China says it will take care of its own. Regardless of the truth behind these ideas, they are fundamental to understanding the mythologies of their respective governments. One of the core documents the Chinese government uses to “take care of everyone” is a social security card that is far more powerful than its American counterpart. While a social security number in the US is a de facto national identification system, the Chinese version is essential to access the welfare system covering health care, maternity leave, pensions, unemployment compensation and worker’s compensation payments.   In late January, China released the latest annual data
Asia is starting to get out and exercise despite pandemic
Asia is in the middle of a fitness boom, and most people think it's here to stay.  This is despite the population being seen as less physically active than their counterparts living elsewhere in the world, with Asian professionals lagging behind in the exercise statistics, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study.   By 2025, China plans to build a sports economy worth US$850 billion. 20,000 soccer programs were launched in schools between 2015 and 2020. By 2025, China plans to have 50,000 soccer programs running in local schools. Children across Asia have often been encouraged to spend their leisure time on maths and science homework, rather than kicking a ball around or swingi
Drinking water for 100 million Chinese is contaminated
Nearly 100 million people in China drink water that contains toxic chemicals exceeding safety limits, researchers have found.  A team from Tsinghua University in Beijing found that the water contained more than 20% of man-made chemicals called polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS), which is used in fabrics and pesticides,  By analyzing data from 526 drinking water samples across 66 cities with a total population of 450 million, the study found that 16 samples, affecting 100 million people, exceeded safe levels. China has no national safety standards, so the study used the US state of Vermont’s regulations as the benchmark. Cities with high levels included Wuxi, Hangzhou and Suzhou in eastern China and Fo
Investigation into Chinese infant skin cream after it caused extreme weight gain
A company stands accused of illegally adding hormones to baby lotion that caused a five-month-old girl to grow so big, so quickly, that she faced serious health concerns. After using the anti-bacterial lotion named Yifuling on their daughter to treat her eczema, the girl’s parents were alarmed to see their daughter rapidly balloon to 24 pounds. With cheeks so heavy they hung past her jawline, the baby girl’s forehead protruded abnormally and became covered in hair. They said she had also suffered developmental delays and stunted growth. Fearing the baby was allergic to her mother’s breast milk, they took their daughter – nicknamed Pomelo – for testing but doctors found no abnormalities. Wit
Chinese switched-at-birth boy fighting for his life
A Chinese baby switched at birth almost three decades ago, is now a grown man fighting for his life in hospital less than a year after being reunited with his biological parents. Mistakenly given to the wrong parents by hospital staff 28 years ago, Yao Ce has been waging a battle against advanced liver cancer after being diagnosed in February last year. The mistake may have directly led to Yao’s poor health. As a baby born with Hepatitis B, Yao should have been given a high-dosage vaccine shortly after birth because he had inherited the condition from his biological mother, Du, who is a Hepatitis B carrier.  The hospital mistakenly gave the vaccine to the healthy baby born to Xu instead, le
Eye doctor calls stabbing ‘pleasant surprise’
A respected doctor in China called a brutal knife attack that robbed him of his surgical career “a pleasant surprise” because it forced him to reassess his life. Tao Yong, an ophthalmologist, spoke one year after a patient, Cui Zhenguo, stabbed him in the head and arm with a vegetable knife at Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital, where he is head of ophthalmology. Tao sustained injuries on the back of his head and the neck and stayed in ICU for two weeks. The doctor required surgery to save his hand, and the stabbing was so precise that he is unlikely ever to perform eye surgery again. Two other members of staff were wounded as they tried to stop the attack. “To summarize last year, I can think of
Sexual illiteracy is creating an HIV crisis in China
Poor sexual literacy in China has contributed to a rapid growth in the number of people who have contracted HIV over the past decade, even as the disease continues to abate worldwide.  The Chinese National Health Commission reported that 131,000 people contracted the disease in 2019. In 2007 the number of new cases was just under 33,000. In 2018, the Commission said it estimated new HIV patients are growing at a rate of about 80,000 people per year, although that data does not distinguish between people who just contracted the virus or those who may have had it for awhile without knowing. By comparison, the US reported just under 38,000 new cases in 2018. In 2019, the global number of people
Chinese children are becoming taller. Here’s why
Rapid economic growth in China has led to major improvements in quality of life and, according to a recent study, Chinese teenagers have achieved significant gains in height over the past 35 years. In 1985, the average height of 19-year-old women was 5.2 feet and that of 19-year-old men 5.5 feet. In 2019, the corresponding figures were 5.4 feet and 5.8 feet respectively.  According to the study, published in the medical journal The Lancet this month, the increase in boys’ height is the largest in the world. The improvement in girls’ height is the third largest. The study analyses children’s physical growth in different countries by pooling height and body mass index data from 193 countries.
China has a plan to help its children get more exercise
China is to put greater emphasis on physical education in its high-school entrance exam in an effort to push schools and parents to ensure children get more exercise. It follows repeated warnings that Chinese children have high levels of obesity and poor eyesight, with physical education often neglected in China’s primary and middle schools in favor of academic subjects. Last month, the education ministry announced plans to give sports a higher weighting in the nation’s high-school entry exam, the zhongkao, putting it almost on a par with academic subjects such as Chinese, math and English. The zhongkao already includes a score for sports, but gives it very low weighting compared with other
How China tests millions of people for Covid-19
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. When the coronavirus devastated China’s central city of Wuhan in January 2020, many people who suspected they caught the virus were left in the dark. The health system was stretched to its breaking point and test kits were in short supply. Many Chinese people who may have contracted the virus had to wait for days or weeks to get tested, a prerequisite for treatment. Some people died before getting diagnosed.  Fast forward to mid-May and the same city organized a free testing campaign that covered 9.9 million residents over two weeks. The goal was to weed