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Home > China Travel Guide> Health Matters

Health Matters


[an error occurred while processing this directive] Tourist travel in China can be extremely strenuous and may be especially debilitating to someone in poor health. Tours often involve walking long distances and up steep hills. All, especially those with a history of coronary/pulmonary problems, should have a complete medical checkup before making final travel plans. It is very important to schedule rest periods during your touring activities.
China discourages travel by persons who are ill, pregnant, or are of advanced age. Visa applicants over 60 are sometimes required to complete a health questionnaire. If medical problems exist, a letter from your physician in the United States explaining treatment and, if relevant, copies of your most recent electrocardiograms, would be helpful in case a medical emergency occurs in China.

China lacks handicapped-accessible facilities. Even travel to popular destinations such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City can present problems to persons with disabilities. If you require such facilities, you may want to discuss this with your travel agent or host well in advance of your proposed travel.

You can obtain information on vaccinations and other health precautions for travelers in the United States from local health departments, private doctors, travel clinics, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at www.cdc.gov.


Medical Facilities

You can select hospitals in major Chinese cities that have so-called VIP wards. These wards feature reasonably up-to-date medical technology and physicians who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Most of these VIP wards also provide medical services to foreigners, feature English-speaking doctors and nurses, and may even accept credit cards for payment.

In rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are generally available. Medical personnel in rural areas are often poorly trained and are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency situations.
Foreign-operated medical providers catering to expatriates and visitors are available, though their services are usually considerably more expensive than hospitals and clinics operated by local government health authorities.

SOS International, Ltd., operates clinics and provides medical evacuation and medical escort services in several Chinese cities. For medical emergencies anywhere in mainland China, Americans can call the SOS International, Ltd., 24-hour “Alarm Center” in Beijing at (86-10) 64629100 or in Shanghai at (86-21) 62950099 for advice and referrals to local facilities. SOS International Alarm Centers can also be contacted in Hong Kong at (852) 24289900 and in the United States at (1-800) 523-6586.

The Australian firm, GlobalDoctor, Ltd., has opened clinics staffed by English-speaking doctors within the VIP wards of government-run hospitals in Chengdu, Nanjing, and Beijing and plans to open additional facilities within several months in Xian and Shenzhen. GlobalDoctor can be reached by telephone from China at (61-8) 92263088 or on the Internet at www.eglobaldoctor.com.

Additional information on medical providers specializing in treating foreigners, including dental and orthodontic clinics, is available on the U.S. Embassies web page at www.usembassy-china.org.cn.


Medical Insurance

Americans are advised to travel to China with both health insurance and medical evacuation insurance.
U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Even when insurance does cover services received in China, it will usually be necessary to pay first and then file for reimbursement with the insurance company upon returning to the United States.

Supplemental insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation, is strongly recommended and can be purchased in the United States prior to travel.

Two private emergency medical assistance firms, SOS International, Ltd., and Medex Assistance Corporation, offer medical insurance policies designed for travelers and also have staff in China who can assist in the event of a medical emergency.

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Some material from this page is based on source from U.S. State Department

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