`Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 93“China announced the results of its first national survey of mental illness in 2007. This survey found the country had nearly eight million people suffering from schizophrenia, and that 30% of them do not take drugs for the problem, either because it is ‘too troublesome’ or they fear side-effects. Doctors said the number of patients with mental health problems was on the rise.Additionally, China has at least 26 million sufferers from depression, with many more undiagnosed. Ten percent to 15% of those attempting suicide, and 50% to 70% of all people who commit or attempt suicide, suffer from depression. But 90% of sufferers get no treatment, and most clinically depressed people fear being stigmatized for their illness, because, say doctors, Chinese society simply does not understand depression and tends to blame the individual.Poverty, not depression, drove a couple in central Hunan Province to suicide in 2007. The husband, 38-year-old Chen Zhengxian, suffered from hepatitis-B and kidney stones, among other ailments, but could not afford medical care. Chen and his wife tied themselves together with a rope and leapt into the River Yangtze, leaving behind a 12-year-old son and Chen’s mother. They had spent their life savings in 2005 on medical treatment for the son, and still owed more than 8,000 yuan from that time. They could not even afford to pay the 60 yuan fee for the family of four that would have given them basic medical insurance.”
I’ve always found Chinese hospitals pretty efficient. They’re not quite as spick and span as a Western hospital – or even a Thai hospital – and their equipment is a bit beat-up and out of date. But of course China is a developing nation and so I do not expect to see parity with Western hospitals.
I’ve also always found Chinese doctors to be efficient and polite and knowledgeable. And I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes – half an hour at most – for treatment.
But then, I can pay for it. I have the money, and a few hundred yuan to me is nothing much. Also - I am white, and as I have said many times before, white skin is a badge of privilege in China. Add to that the fact that the doctors are nearly all highly educated and enjoy the chance to practice their English, and there are seldom any problems for me in getting treatment. Plus of course I know a bunch of doctors from my teaching work, so from tooth pain to heart trouble I can pretty much call up a specialist.
If I was Chinese, of course, and in particular one of the millions of poor in China, it would be a totally different story. I would be one of the hundreds of timid, lost and harassed folk I see wandering about the place every hospital I go to.
But any readers wandering by know that, and I know that, so no tub-thumping. Instead I shall tell you about my first trip to a Chinese hospital – tomorrow.
`Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 94“Other dangers abound. In 2004, State media announced that 390,000 people had died prematurely from unsafe injections, without giving a time-frame. Three hundred and ninety thousand people.Thirty percent of immune injections and 50% of therapeutic injections were unsafe, said the report, adding that in China’s poor western rural areas, more than 70% of ‘disposable’ syringes intended for single use were in fact reused without effective disinfection measures.Though disposable syringes cost just 1 US cent more than a reusable needle, they are seldom used. While China has the manufacturing capacity to make 1.7 billion disposable needles a year, sales are stuck at only 100 million a year.Another 200,000 people die a year just using drugs improperly.”