The Tibetan people have enjoyed a free medical care policy since
the peaceful liberation in 1951.
In the meantime, the central government has also poured big
investment into the construction of local medical institutions and
trained a great number of Tibetan doctors.
The continuous efforts have been rewarded: Tibetans now live
longer and more healthily.
The average life expectancy has increased to 67 years old today
from 35 years in 1951.
The mortality rate of pregnant and lying-in women has decreased
from 5000 per 100,000 in the early 1950s to 310.43 per 100,000. The
mortality rate for infants has decreased from 430 per thousand to
24.53 per thousand now.
In 1951, the local population was 1.14 million. Today, the
region's population has reached 2.7 million, 92 percent of which
In the first half of the 20th century, there were only a few
towns in Tibet that had Western medical clinics. They were opened
by foreigners or the Tibet office of the Government of the Republic
of China ruled by Kuomintang.
There was practically no standard medical establishment
servicing the vast agricultural and pastoral areas.
A small number of private clinics operated, with about 100
practitioners. In addition to them were Tibetan folk doctors in the
pastoral areas, and only 400 or so medical workers throughout the
region, about four for every 10,000 inhabitants.
Moreover, these medical workers served only the ruling and
aristocratic classes, leaving the majority of serfs and slaves with
little or no medical care and supplies.
Between 1951 and 1959, 62 medical institutes were established
with 480 beds and 791 medical staff serving local people.
By the end of 2004, the region had opened 1,326 medical
institutes, with 6,929 hospital beds and 10,260 medical
Favorable policies and funds by the government boost the medical
progress in the region. After 1951, the central government has
increased the free medical service fund three times. Since 1993,
730 million yuan (US$90 million) has been allocated to the
The free medical fund per capita has increased to 80 yuan
(US$9.89) on average today from 5 yuan (61 US cents) in 1993.
In 1994, 14 provinces and cities and 10 organizations under the
Ministry of Health sent medical staff to the region, bringing 10
million yuan (US$1.23 million) and a number of cooperative medical
Thanks to them, a group of local medical technicians and workers
The country has spent over 4 billion yuan (US$490 million) on
the region's medical service since 1951, improving the
infrastructure of the medical service system.
Between 2000 and 2005, 527 million yuan (US$65.1 million) has
been spent in reconstructing and enlarging the medical institutes
in the counties in the region, establishing clinics in the towns,
and building blood banks.
The autonomous region's government is buying medical equipment
valued at 118 million yuan (US$14.6 million) in 2005 for hospitals
and clinics in counties and towns.
Tibetan medicine and hospitals also saw a boom.
Before 1951, there were only three official hospitals offering
traditional Tibetan medical treatment.
Things changed in 1959, when Lhasa Tibetan Hospital was founded.
In the following years, 17 such hospitals were set up, with over
2,000 doctors practicing the age-old form of traditional
(China Daily August 26, 2005)