General Availability Of Health Care

While the names and addresses of reliable (and very expensive) clinics with up-to-date equipment and English-speaking foreign doctors are given in this guide where available, in most cases they are not. So should you begin to feel unwell in China, your first contact should be with your hotel reception. Many major hotels have doctors on staff who will give a first diagnosis and treatment for minor problems, and who will be aware of the best place to send foreigners for further treatment.

Be very cautious about what is prescribed for you. Doctors are poorly paid, and many earn kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing expensive medicines. Antibiotics are handed out like candy, and indeed, dangerous and powerful drugs of all kinds can be bought over the counter at pharmacies. Mis-prescription is now a significant cause of death in China, including the habit of prescribing a combination of Western drugs and Chinese traditional "medicines" which react badly with each other. In general, the best policy is to stay as far away from Chinese health care as possible. Much of it is not good for your health.

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