Health Care in China is a significant point of contention for foreign people. Treatment is available in public hospitals, international clinics within them or stand alone ones, or at private facilities that cater to foreigners.
The Chinese healthcare system is hospital-centered, so you may often forego the search for a general practitioner. The public healthcare system is best described as inconsistent -- many cities have direct access to hospitals and a range of medical services, whereas rural areas can be hours and even days away from the nearest clinic.
While the public healthcare system in china is generally considered to be substandard, you may find those in major China cities have improved dramatically although this may not be the case with every facility.
As can be expected from such a vast country, the quality of care, the ease of access and the associated costs vary tremendously between different places and institutions. The language barrier, slow service and long queues dissuade most westerners from seeking treatment in a public hospital.
Despite these, however, the quality of treatment in many hospitals is up to Western standards, even if the methods are different. Patients are expected to keep their own medical records, hospitals normally charge very little for consultations but prescriptions can be a little more costly.
International Wings In Public Hospitals
In an attempt to bridge the gap between the quality of care at costly private hospitals and the bad service at public facilities, some public clinics have opened international wings. These exist as partnerships between the state and the private sector, and aim to provide access to public healthcare with Western standards of healthcare.
Many of these share doctors with public facilities, but don't have the long waiting times. They also have a greater focus on customer care and treatments cost less than at private hospitals. International wings are a relatively new phenomenon, however, and are only found in China's largest commercial centres.
Private Healthcare In China
International hospitals are well represented in larger cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but will be absent in most smaller cities and rural communities. While these private facilites often offer access to English-speaking medical staff with Western training, the high standards and service-orientated treatment come at a price and fees are sometimes more than twice those at Chinese public hospitals. In any case, you can choose to take out private health insurance and seek treatment at private facilities
Compared with most countries, China is extremely safe. Serious and violent crime in China is infrequent. Although one may fall victim to petty theft, especially in tourist hot spots and crowded market places, it still isn’t commonplace. Travel alone to small villages and walk home at nightafter city nightlife is relaxing.
One concerned about their safety in China will focus lesson the dangers travellers are usually worried about, such as pickpocketing, and more on seemingly innocuous areas such as food and driving.
Little extra precaution needs to be taken when it comes to securing housing. Locking the doors, keeping valuables out of sight and, for women living alone, avoiding ground floor apartments are appropriate safety measures.
At face value there seems to be little that can be done to avoid these unfortunate realities, but adopting certain defensive behaviors is easy and beneficial. New arrivals should take routine precautions in larger cities by paying attention to their surroundings, being mindful of their belongings in public places, and staying away from poorly lit areas at night, especially if travelling alone.
The Chinese authorities place great emphasis on maintaining public order. China in general is a very safe country for foreigners. The most important safety precaution you can take in China isthe same as in any country: awareness. Although petty crime is rising, the risk of being physically attacked remains very low.
Keep in mind that you are guest in a foreign country where your native country‘s laws do not apply – you are subject to Chinese laws and legal procedures. If you are involved in unlawful activities, you can expect great difficulties if and when you apply for future visas to visit China. Also note that some parts of China are restricted for foreigners even today or accessible only if you travel with an official tour guide.
As theft is not uncommon in China, always make sure your valuables are well-protected. Never carry your passport/visa, credit cards, traveller‘s schedules or other travel documents in your shoulder bag or backpack – try to always carry them on your person or store them safely away in your hotel or home.
Do not show off your valuable goods in public and only keep enough money for your immediate needs inside your wallet – hide the rest on your body or store it at a safe place. Be particularly cautious about your possessions in crowded areas such as local festivals, markets, tourist sites, railways, bus stations, or on trains and buses. If any of your belongings is stolen, report it immediately to the nearest police station and also to your country‘s embassy if any official documents disappeared.
One aspect that you should be aware of while travelling in China is the risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes in China‘s southwest and seasonal floods in areas bordering the Yangtze River. China‘s south-eastern coast also is frequently hit by typhoons, so plan your travels carefully. Related to China‘s mountainous geography, altitude sickness should be carefully taken into account, too, as most places in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, Sichuan, and Yunnan are situated at very high altitudes. Always allow time for acclimatisation when visiting these regions.
Another major concern is air pollution, which is a significant problem in many cities throughout China. The pollution can be so serious as to cause respiratory problems, irritating coughs, and runny noses even for healthy people.
Violent unrest in the country often affects minority regions, such as those inhabited by Mongols, Tibetans, and Uyghurs. Besides, demonstrations in any locality have the potential to turn violent, with the local authorities struggling to keep a lid on every unauthorised mass activity. The Tibet issue is particularly sensitive in China. Authorities generally limit access to foreign visitors and any connection of foreigners with supporting Tibetan independence will usually be dealt with severely.
However, local unrests in China hardly, if ever, affect foreign visitorsto the country. On the whole, China is one of the safest countries to travel in anywhere and by far the most visits to the country are completely incident free. Of the millions of travellers that visit China annually, very few require consular assistance (e.g. for stolen passports) and far less get in legal trouble with the authorities.
Areas bordering on Siberia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos, and Burma are poorly policed and are notorious for drug smuggling and other crimes. Punishment for drug-related offences in China is often extremely severe and can potentially include the death penalty, especially if heroin is involved. Gambling is illegal in China though you will see people playing games such as majiang for money in many places.
In Beijing, Shanghai, and other popular destinations for foreign tourists there are established scams targeting your money. The scams are often modified, but are mostly related to pressuring you to pay grossly inflated prices. For example, under the pretence of practicing their English some scamartists will route you to tea houses, restaurants or art galleries where you will be heavily overcharged. Counterfeit money is another concern, so keep your eyes out. Ensure that you are aware of the values and appearances of different local banknotes to avoid being short-changed or handed counterfeit money.
Practicing your religion will not be much of a problem in China, with avery few exceptions, such as for the Falun Gong movement, which is banned inthe country. However, there are clear restrictions in China on preaching and distributing religious materials.
The most likely danger to your physical well- being definitely comesfrom China‘s traffic situation, so keep your guard when crossing the street. While travelling around by Chinese public or private means of transport, you should be really careful as traffic is chaotic and largely unregulated. Whether in cities or in mountains, some taxi and bus drivers are driving dangerously so do not hesitate to ask them to drive a bit slower and to wear the seat belt ifthere is one, even if the driver says it could bring misfortune.
If you ride by bike, be really cautious as road accidents involving two-wheelers are very frequent and often result in serious injuries. Visitors to China should also keep in mind that pedestrians never have the right of way.The rate of traffic accidents in China, including fatal accidents, is among the highest in the world and road accidents can sometimes turn violent, even involving bystanders. The safest way for you to settle disputes might be calling the police – though Chinese people rarely do so.
Once taken into account all these warnings, you can enjoy your stay in this fascinating and diverse country that welcomes more than 50 million visitors a year. Even if you are a woman, travelling alone in China is a reasonably safe option. That being said, for all countries there will always be some places where it is very safe and some where it is not. As in every other country in the world, savvy and caution are the best weapons against theft or worse.