A National People’s Congress deputy from Tibet
Autonomous Region said that a complete system of healthcare
covering cities, counties and townships, as well as an early
warning and response system for emergent epidemics, has been
Professor Yishi Yangzom, chief pediatrician at
Tibet Autonomous Region People’s Hospital, was talking to
China.org.cn during the ongoing session of the national legislature
Yangzom was educated in Western medicine at Capital
Medical University in the 1960s and has practiced in Tibet for 35
years. She is very proud of the region’s medical achievements over
the past three decades.
“Medical undertakings in the 1970s had already
progressed greatly compared to the 1950s when Tibet was peacefully
liberated, but the medical system in farming and pasturing areas
was still weak,” she said.
Yangzom said that, after reform and opening up,
development has been accompanied by significant achievements in
health. In 2004, the maternal mortality rate in Tibet was 3.1 per
thousand, while infant mortality was 42.5 per thousand. The average
life expectation of Tibetan people rose to 67 years from 35 years
in old Tibet (before 1951).
Currently, every prefecture or city has at least
one general hospital, every county one medical center and over 600
townships have medical stations. Most illnesses can now be treated
quickly and closer to home.
“From 2002 to 2004, 159 million yuan (US$19.23
million) funded by the issue of T-bonds was invested in Tibet’s
three-level medical system, covering cities, counties and
townships,” she said. In addition, 153.6 million yuan (US$18.57
million) was spent on the construction of hospitals in 35
Many funds were spent on training personnel in
township hospitals to improve medical services in rural areas,
while urban hospitals also continued to improve.
Yangzom used Lhasa, the regional capital, as an
example, where there are six second-level or above hospitals and
where equipment for gastroscopy, computer tomography and nuclear
magnetic resonance scanning is now available.
Since the SARS and bird flu outbreaks, Tibet has also improved its
epidemic early warning and response system with financial support
from central government. Local medical departments have
strengthened preventive measures, as well as establishing
mechanisms to control the spread of any emergent epidemic.
According to Yangzom, over 90 percent of Tibetan
children are inoculated against measles, tuberculosis and hepatitis
The incidence of contagious diseases last year was
2.8 per thousand, while the death ratio was only 0.19 percent.
Many Tibetans living in rural areas like to use
traditional Tibetan medicine, while urban residents tend to prefer
Western medicine, Yangzom said. Though a practitioner of Western
medicine, she is confident in the future of traditional Tibetan
To support it, both central and local governments
have issued many policies, and it has been listed as one of the
distinctive and pillar industries of the region.
Traditional remedies, usually taken as pills or
soup in the past, can now be made in the form of capsules and
syrups, she said.
Currently, there are over 50 Tibetan medicine
pharmaceutical enterprises nationwide, producing over 300 kinds of
medicine and reaping 3 billion yuan (US$362.76 million) in sales
revenue every year.
Local government has also accelerated the education
of medical staff. Many Tibetan students are now learning medicine
in inland provinces. There are three medical colleges and one
specializing in traditional Tibetan medicine in the region.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun March