In 2001 China had 330,000 medical, health-care and epidemic prevention institutions (including clinics), with 3.19 million beds, and 4.49 million medical personnel. In Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and other large cities, various high-level specialized hospitals of tumor, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, ophthalmological and dental diseases, traditional Chinese medicine and infectious diseases can be found, in addition to a large number of general hospitals. Medium-sized cities in all the provinces and autonomous regions have general and specialized hospitals equipped with modern facilities. Now medical, prevention, and health-care networks at the county, township and village levels have taken shape in the countryside. At present, there are more than 2,000 hospitals at the county level, and more than 50,000 hospitals at the township and town levels. Of the 730,000 administrative villages, 89.8 percent have medical centers. China has a total of 1.28 million rural doctors and paramedics. Thanks to the founding and perfection of the medical and health care institutions and the fact that the people have gradually cultivated the habit of paying attention to personal hygiene, the Chinese people mainly die of malignant tumors, or cerebrovascular or heart diseases now instead of infectious and parasitic diseases in the past. The death causes for the Chinese people are very close to those of the developed countries. The urban and rural people’s health has greatly improved. The average life expectancy of the Chinese people increased from 35 years old on the eve of Liberation in 1949, to 70.9 years old in 1995, and to 71.8 years old in 2001.
“Putting prevention first” is an important experience of China’s health care work. Government health departments at all levels have always followed this principle, and have worked hard to prevent and control infectious, local and parasitic diseases that are detrimental to the people’s health. The administrative areas at all levels have formed a national health care anti-epidemic network with anti-epidemic stations and other prevention institutions as the mainstay. In the early 1960s, China had already eliminated smallpox, more than 10 years earlier than in the world as a whole.
To concentrate efforts on eliminating or controlling infectious and local diseases gravely threatening the people’s health, the Chinese government promulgated the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, the National Action Plan for Eliminating Poliomyelitis in 1995, the China Outline of the Program for Eliminating Iodine Deficiency Diseases in 2000 and other legal documents, thus further strengthening the prevention and Control of diseases. Thanks to China’s remarkable achievements in preventing and controlling diseases, the Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Health has been awarded a special achievement prize by the World Health Organization.