The average life span of Chinese people has increased by 36 years over the past fifty years, from 35 years in 1949 to 71 years today.
Before 1949, people were severely affected by epidemics and varieties of endemic due to the lack of medicare. Diseases such as cholera, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid and malaria plagued the country and threatened many lives in the first half of the century.
According to incomplete statistics, when the People's Republic of China was just founded, there was 100,000 people infected by kala-azar, 600,000 by malaria and 1.7 million suffering from tuberculosis in north China's Hebei Province alone.
In the past 50 years, the nation has made great achievements in building up its medicare system, featuring low cost, wide coverage and high efficiency.
The mortality rate of women and infants has decreased by a large scale and the health care system further improved. The newborn mortality rate fell to 3.31 percent in 1997 from as high as 20 percent in the 1950s, below the average level of the world and the other developing countries. The rate of deaths for pregnant woman also decreased to 63.6 out of every 100,000 from the previous 1,500.
The number of medical facilities and institutions amount to 310, 000, from 3,670 in 1949, with the berth number increasing to 3.15 million from 80,000. A health care and disease prevention network was set up within the vast rural area which effectively safeguarded the health of 900 million rural residents. From 1991 to 1998, investment in rural medical establishments totaled 14.6 billion yuan, and 71 percent of the facilities were completed.
Infectious diseases like smallpox and measles have been wiped out in China and chincough, diphtheria and poliomyelitis are under control. The incidence of contagious diseases dropped to 0.1948 percent in 1998 from 3.2 percent in the 1960s.