Health care in China: A rural-urban comparison after the socioeconomic reforms

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This article provides an overview of the current Chinese health care system with particular emphasis on rural-urban differences. China's post-1978 economic reforms, although they improved general living standards, created some unintended consequences, as evidenced by the disintegration of the rural cooperative medical system and the sharp reduction in the number of 'barefoot doctors', both of which were essential elements in the improvement of health status in rural China. The increase in the elderly population and their lack of health insurance and pensions will also place enormous pressure on services for their care. These changes have disproportionately affected the rural health care system, leaving the urban system basically intact, and have contributed to the rural-urban disparity in health care. Based on recent data the article compares current rural-urban differences in health care policy, systems, resources, and outcomes, and proposes potential solutions to reduce them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-736
Number of pages14
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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