Posted by: David | April 11, 2010

Shanxi Trip

I recently took a trip to Taiyuan, Shanxi province, to visit a place called Evergreen.  A doctor friend and I took the overnight train (actually, 2 overnights – 40 hours total!) and arrived in time for a lecture for community doctors.  We sat in the back so as not to offend anyone with our unshowered selves…

Evergreen is an NGO which exists to help the people of Shanxi develop and improve their lives, and a lot of their work involves healthcare.  They held a “see Evergreen day” for several of us doctors who had just finished with another medical conference in Xiamen.  We got to see how they had made many contacts with government officials and were working with a few community health centers.  I have an interest in community health, and was pleased to hear that the Chinese government has supported a big increase in community health centers over the past 2-3 years. Evergreen has trained many Chinese workers in the community health centers, and at one center which is responsible for 14,000 patients in a city district, they visited every single household and started a basic medical record for everyone.  In the process, they diagnosed several hundred people with high blood pressure and diabetes who did not know of their condition before.  Now the center can keep track of these people and make sure that they are taking care of themselves before they develop problems like strokes or heart attacks from these conditions.  The government pays the center 15 RMB (about $2) per person per year to manage their chronic health conditions – it’s amazing how much can be done with so little!  I hope that we in the US can learn from examples like this.  Medical care in China, like everything else, is changing rapidly, and I want to be part of positive change in the system.

A patient being seen at a community health center in Shanxi

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