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A Tale of Two Diseases: Tuberculosis Control and Malaria Eradication in China

by Yanzhong Huang
China's first lady Peng Liyuan attends an event for World Tuberculosis Day in Dongguan, Guangdong province. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) China's first lady Peng Liyuan attends an event for World Tuberculosis Day in Dongguan, Guangdong province. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last month, the World Health Organization declared that China has achieved the Millennium Development Goals target of reversing tuberculosis (TB) incidence by 2015.  According to a recent study published by the Lancet, between 1990 and 2010, China more than halved the prevalence of smear-positive TB. The achievement prompted the WHO representative in China to note that “over the last 20 years, China has been the single country that has shown the biggest gains in TB control in the world.” The Lancet piece attributes China’s success in TB control to the government’s commitment to the WHO-recommended program called directly observed therapy, short course or DOTS. What the article failed to note was the important role played by other international agencies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the largest international health cooperation program in China. Read more »

The Global Fund’s China Legacy

by Yanzhong Huang
A doctor draws blood from the neck of a patient at an emergency room of a hospital in Shanghai May 15, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters) A doctor draws blood from the neck of a patient at an emergency room of a hospital in Shanghai May 15, 2013. (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, twelve African countries met in Windhoek, Namibia to discuss the new funding model of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria. With its emphasis on actual disease burden and flexibility, the launch of the new funding model put the final nail in the coffin of the old approach, which allocates grants based on the need of individual countries and the quality of each proposal. Indeed, even prior to the unveiling of the new funding model, the Global Fund had made China and several other G20 upper-middle income countries ineligible due to their “less than an extreme disease burden.” China, which began receiving Global Fund support in 2003, quickly became one of the Global Fund’s largest recipients. This decision hit China hard, as China had been expecting to be eligible for some $880 million in grant renewals during the 2012-16 period. Since China also decided to forego transitional funding from the Global Fund, the Fund officially closed its portfolio in China rather unceremoniously at the end of 2013. Read more »

What Money Failed to Buy: The Limits of China’s Healthcare Reform

by Yanzhong Huang
A man walks past Chinese national flags tied to iron fences at Chaoyang Hospital. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters) A man walks past Chinese national flags tied to iron fences at Chaoyang Hospital. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

In 2009, China unveiled plans to invest $124 billion to launch its healthcare reform. Four years later, the government has actually spent more than $371 billion. The central government has spent $100 billion on funding programs related to healthcare insurance, public health, public hospitals reform, and strengthening community healthcare institutions alone. Read more »

Sex Has Become the Main Mode of HIV Transmission in China

by Yanzhong Huang
Sex shops with neon signs are seen at a wealthy district in Beijing May 6, 2013 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters) Sex shops with neon signs are seen at a wealthy district in Beijing May 6, 2013 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Fifteen years ago, in light of the rapid spread of the HIV cases and the absence of effective government response, UN officials warned that China could have over 10 million HIV cases by 2010.  Thankfully, that prophesy was not fulfilled.  In fact, China today has an estimated 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.  The adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is only 0.1 percent, the same as Japan’s and less than the United Kingdom’s (0.2 percent) and the United States’ (0.6 percent).  Comparatively, in 2010, China had 36,200 AIDS-related deaths—the same number of people die annually as a result of seasonal flu in the United States—compared to 1.7 million who died of stroke and nearly 1 million who died of heart disease. Read more »

Watch Out for the H10N8 Avian Flu

by Yanzhong Huang
Employees dispose of uninfected dead birds at a treatment plant as part of preventive measures against the H7N9 bird flu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on April 16, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Employees dispose of uninfected dead birds at a treatment plant as part of preventive measures against the H7N9 bird flu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on April 16, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

SARS, H5N1, and H7N9. Over the past 10 years, China has earned its reputation as the epicenter of major disease outbreaks. Now, while the country is still concerned about the return of H7N9, another virus has emerged. On Wednesday a 73-year-old woman from the landlocked southeastern Jiangxi Province, who died of respiratory failure on December 6, was confirmed by the China CDC to be infected with the H10N8 avian flu. Read more »

Rising Violence Against Doctors in China

by Yanzhong Huang
People wait in line at a counter for medical services at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine hospital for treatment in Beijing. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters) People wait in line at a counter for medical services at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine hospital for treatment in Beijing. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

Practicing medicine in China has become an even more high-risk business. In ten days in October, China reported at least six attacks on healthcare workers. In the most recent case, a man, unhappy with the results of an operation, fatally stabbed a doctor and wounded two others in a hospital of Zhejiang province. Rising violence against healthcare workers has not only discouraged doctors in China from adopting medically necessary but risky procedures, but also—in conjunction with the problem of doctors’ low base salaries—provided strong disincentives for practicing medicine in China. According to a survey carried out by the Chinese Hospital Association (CHA), 29 percent of the healthcare workers prefer self-protecting medical procedures, 40 percent are considering changing professions, and 78 percent do not want their children to become a healthcare professional in the future. Read more »

Population Aging in China: A Mixed Blessing

by Yanzhong Huang
Chinese cyclists ride past three elderly men from neighborhood watch committees in central Beijing on February 27, 2003. Chinese cyclists ride past three elderly men from neighborhood watch committees in central Beijing on February 27, 2003. (Guang Niu/Reuters)

China is rapidly getting older. Three decades ago, only 5 percent of the population was over 65; today, 123 million people, or 9 percent of the population, are over this age. A report released by a government think tank forecasts that China will become the world’s most aged society in 2030. Further, by 2050 China’s older population will likely swell to 330 million, or a quarter of its total population. Read more »

How Much Should We Worry About Poultry Imported From China?

by Yanzhong Huang
An employee sprays to sterilize a poultry farm in Hemen township, Jiangsu province (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). An employee sprays to sterilize a poultry farm in Hemen township, Jiangsu province (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

One month ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quietly lifted the ban on processed poultry imports from China. This raised immediate concerns in the United States. The media responded critically to the decision; a recent Bloomberg article was titled “Don’t Trust a Chicken Nugget That’s Visited China.” U.S. consumers were worried, perhaps even frightened. One person commented to the CBS News report that “[I am] immediately taking anything and everything with processed chicken off my shopping list. It’s been clear for a long time now that products from China are simply not safe and may even be harmful.” Read more »

China’s Diabetes Epidemic

by Yanzhong Huang
A diabetes patient rests his arm on a table for diabetes specialist Doctor Tong Xiao Lin (C) during a medical check-up at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine Hospital in Beijing March 19, 2012. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters) A diabetes patient rests his arm on a table for diabetes specialist Doctor Tong Xiao Lin (C) during a medical check-up at the Guanganmen Chinese medicine Hospital in Beijing March 19, 2012. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

These days we’ve been used to China being the land of “the first,” “the largest” and “the highest.”  However, not all of these superlatives are worthy of praise.  China now has the largest diabetic population in the world (114 million), according to a recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 9, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A child undergoes a medical check for possible kidney stones at a hospital in Shanghai on September 27, 2008 (Nir Elias/Courtesy Reuters) A child undergoes a medical check for possible kidney stones at a hospital in Shanghai on September 27, 2008 (Nir Elias/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. China fines milk formula companies. The Chinese government has fined six milk formula companies a total of $110 million for anti-competitive behavior and price fixing, the largest fine the Chinese government has ever instituted for violations of antitrust laws. Five of the companies are foreign, hailing from France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United States, and one company is based in Hong Kong. Read more »