Photos: Shortage of doctors and medical resources leaves millions of sick Chinese children untreated

December 30, 2010Jing Gao6 Comments, , , , , , , , , , ,

From NetEase:


Beijing has about 1.78 million “medical expert appointments”  available each year, but last year, 138 million requests for medical needs were made. People say that seeing a doctor is like fighting a battle, and making an appointment is like going through Spring Festival travel season. (Jing’s note: Because the significance of Spring Festival, or the Chinese new year is in family reunion, Chinese travel in huge quantities, placing great pressure on rail and bus transportation. Due to the high demand, tickets are extremely difficult to come by.) A number of problems surface, including difficulty in making appointments and hospitalization, and heavy workload for staff.

On the morning of December 22, the line for appointments at Beijing Children’s Hospital winds its ways from the reception desk all the way to the street outside the hospital.

At 10 p.m. on July 22, a child sleeps in the open air on the ground. Beside him is the long line for appointments with a doctor.


On the late night of July 22, parents rest in front of the emergency center of Beijing Children’s Hospital in order to secure their positions in the line for appointments.


On the night of December 7, the temperature in Beijing drops to 5 degrees Celsius below zero (23 F). A father and his child sleep in the open outside the hospital.


On the evening of July 22, clothes hang on the tree. Families with sick children have settled down in the hospital for days.



At 6 a.m. on December 22, while some children are still waiting for their turns in their while asleep, some others have already begun intravenous drip.


At 6:30 a.m. on November 23, the door of the outpatient center at Beijing Children’s Hospital had hardly opened when the crowd waiting for appointments began to push inside.


On November 26, Zhang Jianjun from Inner Mongolia eats dinner inside the outpatient center. His sick niece lies on the bench.



On December 12, a couple from Qingdao, Shandong Province live with their four-year-old child in a small room near Beijing Children’s Hospital. They expect their relatives to gather enough money for the surgery. Their child suffers from severe deformity of the spinal column, which requires surgery as soon as possible.


On December 22, in the corridor of the emergency center of Beijing Children’s Hospital, a father fell asleep with his baby in his arms while waiting for the doctor.

Almost all Chinese Netizens have expressed their greatest sympathy for the parents and children in the photos. Some have also pointed out problems that the photos don’t tell: unequal distribution of medical resources, kickbacks for doctors, scalpers who sell beds, blind faith in big hospitals.

Selected comments from NetEase:

网易内蒙古通辽市网友 [城官来自何方]:

Only sadness. It was the same for me when I went to Tongren Hospital. I had to queue for the entire day.

网易浙江省舟山市网友 [螃蟹设会]:

Is this the country I live in?


I have read each one of the photos very carefully. I feel heartbroken. Nothing is as touching as parents’ love. Besides, I want to say the medical care insurance system is unequal and unfair. It gravitates toward the capital city.


On seeing the faces of the families of those sick children, I felt crying. Medical resources are overly concentrated.


It makes people feel sour, bitter and chilly. Nothing is as touching as parents’ love. Why can’t people live a life with dignity? Why can’t something as basic as children’s health be guaranteed?


It’s astounding!! Why don’t these people choose little clinics? How can they believe that only hospitals know how to treat diseases? While we question public infrastructure, we need to introspect our mentality.


This is China, the medical institution in reality! Tragic!!!


Tragic. Disheartening! Why can’t such a big country establish a few more reliable hospitals?


For the sake of kids, we parents would swallow any bitterness imaginable. The government? Please help them! Thanks.


The best medical experts and facilities are in Beijing, simply because it is the capital city. Its harm is that people all lover the country have to endure hardship and trouble. An appointment there for my brother’s kid costs 10,000 as a kickback for the medical expert. It’s indeed a place that devours human beings without spitting out their bones.


If one day government officials’ political performance is associated with people’s medical care, Chine will have new hope.

网易湖北省荆州市网友 [专业打酱油]:

You have tens of billions of dollars to host a SB meeting, (Jing’s note: SB is a pun which can mean both shi bo, Chinese word for World Expo, and sha bi, Chinese for nitwits) you don’t bother to improve medical system?


I wonder if Washington D.C. has the same problem.

网易山西省太原市网友 [国军司令]:

Beijing Children’s Hospital, it’s a place that stands out in my memory. Doctors go in cahoots with scalpers. They don’t let patients take available beds in the hospital. They give them to scalpers and let them raise the prices and sell them to the patients!


I sincerely want to give a piece of advice: please don’t push kids that are headache or have a cold to Children’s Hospital. Community hospitals and other hospitals can treat these illnesses too. Children’s Hospital would prescribe no more than cephalosporins, azithromycin and Mucosolvan. Leave some of the medical resources to children with severe illness who come from afar. That would be more harmonious. I hope people would support my argument.

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4 comments to “Photos: Shortage of doctors and medical resources leaves millions of sick Chinese children untreated”

  1. Hao Hao Report | December 30, 2010 | Permalink Reply

    Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marjolein Hoekstra, Cristy Li. Cristy Li said: China: Shortage of Doctors and Medical Resources Leaves Millions of Sick Chinese Children Untreated –Ministry of Tofu [...]

  3. [...] including difficulty in making appointments and hospitalization, and heavy workload for staff. Read More>> Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on Facebookshare via RedditShare with StumblersTweet [...]

  4. Tom | April 28, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    While the situation at my hospital here is nowhere near that dire, it still runs at 110% occupancy, meaning it's hard for people to find a bed, and many end up in the hallways. Part of the problem here too is that people now they can only find a decent dr. in the big cities, and few trust anything but the best hospitals in the biggest cities.

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