Would be expats moving to China need to be aware of the shortcomings of the country’s medical care systems outside of major cities.
According to a leading international healthcare company there is general trend that foreigners are staying in China for longer periods, which means healthcare, particularly in privately owned hospitals, needs to adapt to their expectations.
China is an enormous country and there is a vast difference between living in the countryside and modern cities. The difference between medical support in the countryside and cities is an important one, says Medicare International.
If a foreigner found themselves in need of medical attention outside of China’s major cities, they would be hard pressed to find anyone who spoke English fluently and it is unlikely they would be able to diagnose illnesses and prescribe Western medicine.
Not only has the Chinese government had to contend with radical movements of people across China, but trying to introduce a new healthcare system that borrows from western ideas in a country which has relied on its own 2,000-year-old traditions isn’t easy.
Most Chinese use traditional medicine and the marriage of Western style medicine with traditional Chinese medicine has not always been ideal. Practitioners are usually experts in one field or other and advice can often be conflicting, it warns.
When it comes to expats living in China, the usual choice is Healthcare centers, called VIP centers, that have been set up in major city centers, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, where international staff are available with English speaking doctors and nurses.
Expats are strongly recommended to ensure vaccinations are up to date. According to the UK Foreign Office travel advice site, rabies is relatively common in China, so visitors should always be medically checked if bitten by an animal. AIDS is twice as common in China than the UK for example, 0.1% of the adult population has HIV, compared with 0.2% of the UK population.
In addition, the following diseases are rare but need to be guarded against – Tick borne Encephalitis, Japanese Encephalitis, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Malaria (in certain areas), Altitude Sickness, Dengue Fever and Schistosomiasis.
‘For some time now, we have recognized the problems of accessing good quality healthcare in China. The sheer size of the country can mean it is often quicker and easier to arrange treatment outside China, rather than risk travel to a distant clinic in one of the large centers,’ said David Pryor, Senior Executive Director at Medicare International.
‘For clients based in Hong Kong who travel regularly to China, it is worth remembering that Hong Kong has first rate medical facilities with excellent doctors and medical staff, and expatriates can expect to be treated very well,’ he explained.
‘Our policy is to have multi lingual call centers available 24/7 to support clients wherever they are in China or Hong Kong, so customers can rest assured they will be well covered,’ he added.