Attention Urged to People’s Health in Western Areas

Yan Hongchen, vice-chairman of China Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (CPWDP), made a proposal to pay more attention to the people’s health in the west, especially those living in very poor areas. Members of CPWDP are scholars mostly from medical and health fields.

Yan said that after 20 years of reform and opening to the outside world, the economy in the west is still lagged far behind that of the east. An important cause is local people’s health problem that has slowed down the development of economy. In the countryside, many people’s poverty, or their return to poverty shortly after they got rid of it, can ascribed to illness.

According to Yan, three factors lead to their poor health.

Firstly, poor and lack of medical care, an issue that should be attended to by The State Council and health departments.

Only half of the villages and townships in western areas have medical facilities, and they are often in shabby houses and lack of basic equipment and qualified employees. The life-span in Tibet, Qinghai and Xingjiang are below the average of the country by 6-9 years. The rates of maternal mortality and infant mortality are far above the country’s average.

Secondly, high incidence of contaminating disease and endemics.

According to a survey conducted by State Health Services in 1998, the incidence and mortality of infections in the west are above that of the east and even the average of the countryside. More over, the west is suffering many complicated endemics. These illnesses undermine local people’s intelligence and working ability.

Thirdly, lack of health knowledge

According to the survey, only 20 percent of farmers have very limited health knowledge. In many cases an illness is viewed as punishment from an evil spirit which can only be dispelled by offering livestock. It’s often the case that the patient fails to recover but livestock is lost.

Yan suggested the following to solve these problems.

1 State Government makes policies to attract medical college graduates and post-graduates to work in the west. Encourage experienced medical workers in the east to work and lecture in the west.

2 Medical colleges enroll more students coming from and willing to work in the west after graduation. Workshops should be held to train less qualified medical workers. Hospitals and medical institutes in the east may donate spare equipment for help.

3. Spread medical and health knowledge though media, lectures and tours to promote health care and to prevent and cure diseases.

(CIIC 03/12/2001)