Health and Medical Service in China

In spite of there are lots of hospitals providing the health and medical service in China, it is not so easy to get the service in the main cities for the dense population, while for such people as aliens and military personnel etc, there are special pathway to make the service easier to get. For travelers, many potential hazards or unexpected things happened often should be kept in mind.

1. Before Traveling
(a). Consult your doctor in advance. Before traveling in China, you may need to consult your doctor for health advice or a thorough check up if you have not had one recently. This is very important for all but particularly for those with a history of coronary or pulmonary problems. Your doctor may provide your some useful health information about China and the vaccines (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Typhoid fever, Japanese B encephalitis) you need to take. It is recommended to see your doctor 3-4 weeks before your departure because some vaccines need a certain time to take effect.

(b). In China, people from a yellow fever area are required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination. For those who plan to travel between counties, this must be taken in consideration when you travel from a yellow fever area and then plan to enter China.

(c). Take with you a copy of your medical record. A good medical record should mention all the medicines you are taking, the medical treatments you have received or are receiving, your chronic ailments, allergies or hypersensitivities, immunization history, blood type, eyeglass prescription, health insurance (the company's name, address and phone number) and so on. You should also have your doctor's name, address, and phone number in case it is needed. Carry these documents in a place that is both secure and accessible by you at all times while traveling.

(d). For those who take special medicine on a regular basis, make sure that you carry an adequate supply. Carry them in the original containers to identify them as legally obtained drugs and pack them in your carry-on bag. Bringing some useful medicines is also a wise precaution, such as those for colds, diarrhea and constipation.

(e). Check your health insurance policy. If it does not provide for overseas visits, consider requesting your insurer extend the policy. It is also advisable to take out travel insurance to cover you in the event of accidental injury as well as cover medical expenses. Travel policies also cover you for a variety of other risks, such as cancellation charges, loss of money, loss of baggage, and liability to third parties, to name but a few. Remember an annual travel policy will save you money if you propose to go abroad more than once in any twelve-month period.

2. On the Way

(A). Air safety
(a). Airsickness: Before departing, take the airsickness drug at the doctors advice

(b). Special diseases: The special environment of the plane may cause the recurrence of certain illness. People with the following diseases are not recommended to take planes: those with infectious, psychiatric, cardiovascular, cerebral, respiratory, ENT diseases (ear, nose, and throat) and/or late-term pregnancy.

(c). Aero-otitis: A quite common symptom on a plane, your ears feel full and sometimes painful. You can breathe with an open mouth, drink lots of water (or chew gum) in order to ease it. The candy provided by each airline can be used to prevent aero-otitis.

Notice: Before you get on the plane, do not keep your stomach too full or empty. Both will cause discomfort.

(B). Jet lag
When traveling abroad, the time difference will cause the jet lag, because the body clock will be out of sync. The common symptoms are loss of appetite, nausea, digestive problems, headache, fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, etc. Some recover quickly while others may require several days. Keep a happy mood and adjust yourself to the local time as soon as possible.

3. Traveling Around
Health and safety make your tour cheerful and comfortable. Look after yourself carefully during the trip and try your best to minimize the risk of getting ill.

(a). Disagreeing with a new environment: When entering into a new area, most people find themselves disagreeing with the environment. People will usually have poor appetite, trouble sleeping, etc. It is advisable to eat more fruit and avoid greasy food. Vitamin B2 is good for this condition.

(b). Colds: Due to the weather changes, it is easy to catch cold. It is advisable to take different sets of clothes preventing getting cold. Once you are ill, take medicine as soon as possible. A good rest helps your recovery. Vitamin C and aspirin may help.

(c). Heatstroke: The summer in some areas of China is quite hot. You should take good sun protective measures; otherwise, you will suffer heatstroke. It is strongly recommended to drink more water during your travels.

(d). Diarrhea: Frequently affecting travelers, it is generally caused by a change of diet, or sometimes by contaminated food or water. It is wise to carry some anti-diarrhea capsules, such as Imodium. Should your symptoms persist, seek professional advice to stop the problem from becoming serious.

(e). Food poisoning: Consuming toxins or bacteria in contaminated food will cause food poisoning. Once you are vomiting and purging, go to a qualified hospital immediately.

(f). Respiratory illness: The symptom of this disease is coughing, shortness of breath and sometimes chest pain. The cause for this disease varies which will decide what kind of treatment you should take. The usual medicine for it is antibiotics.

(g). Altitude sickness: Some regions of China, including Tibet, Xinjiang, Sichuan and Yunnan have very high altitudes. These can put strain on your health. People with heart disease or high blood pressure are advised not to travel in these areas in view of the serious physical problems that can occur.


4. Tips for keeping healthy
(a). Never drink unboiled water. Boiled water or bottled water is the best choice for you. Don't drink the water from lakes or rivers directly. When potable water is not available, you can eat fruit. Hotels usually supply boiled water that is safe for drinking and for cleaning your teeth. It is also the custom in China for tea to be available in hotel bedrooms. Supplies of both boiled water and tea are regularly replenished. Bottled water and carbonated drinks are also readily available. In some remote areas, water purification tablets are recommended for travelers to carry and use when neither boiled water nor bottled drinks are available.

(b). Avoid eating food being sold by the roadside and raw or undercooked food.

(c). Drink a lot of water. It could help you minimize the possibility of getting an illness.

(d). Wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your mouth.

(e). Proper precaution should be taken against exposure to strong summer sun.

(f). Do not undertake intimate activities without protection. Always use condoms if you have sex in order to reduce sexually transmitted diseases.

(g). Plan your tour schedule carefully allowing for resting time to avoid becoming exhausted.

(h). Carry your own chopsticks and a metal bowl with a lid for train journeys and meals in small roadside restaurants.

(i). Fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly in purified water, then peeled or boiled.

j). Toilets off the beaten tourist track tend to be primitive so it is useful to bring along your own sanitary necessities and moist towels when venturing outside your hotel.

Careful preparation will ensure the happiness of your trip. What may seem to be a bit of a nuisance will go a long way to help you avoid troubles.

5.  Medical Service
Basic medical service can be guaranteed in most Chinese cities, especially those with a large tourist market. However, quality of service may vary between geographic regions. The condition of medical facilities in the countryside is generally worse than in the city, where there are many critical care hospitals with advanced medical equipment and qualified doctors. Some of the superior hospitals have the capability to serve foreign patients in English. In Beijing, the United Family Hospitals and Clinics are well-known for providing quality medical care to tourists who do not speak Mandarin.

Other quality hospitals in China can also offer medical service in English, such as Beijing Xiehe Hospital, Shanghai Renai Hospital, Xian Xijing Hospital and Shenzhen Fuhua I.T.W.M Hospital. Some of the hospitals have a clinic specialized for foreigners, and the Information Desk may also offer triage and intake services in English.
Most four and five-star hotels in China have infirmaries that can provide immediate medical attention, but they are only equipped to deal with minor illness and injury. If this medical service is unavailable where you are staying, you can call the reception desk for assistance, as they may be able to arrange for a physician to come directly to the hotel. It is strongly recommended that you go to a superior hospital for any illness you believe may be serious.

If you join a tour group, your tour guide or travel agency may also be able to provide assistance with medical problems. If you feel ill, tell them as soon as possible so they may arrange for timely medical care.

The best idea, of course, is to be healthy for your trip, and be prepared to handle rudimentary medical issues, like minor headaches, cuts, and blisters. Pack appropriate clothing and footwear, and make sure to bring an adequate supply of any medications you may currently be taking, as well as basic necessities such as aspirin or Tylenol. If you are traveling during the summer months, also make sure to bring sunscreen.

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