Latest News:  

English>>China Society

Who cares for the village doctors? (2)

By Zhang Zhilong (Global Times)

16:13, February 19, 2013

Forgotten group?

Village doctors have been deemed as heroes fighting on the very frontline of the country's vast healthcare system. However, for decades, they have been officially considered as farmers, with practicing medicine only a part-time job - they are not on the public-owned hospitals' pay rolls and they are not covered by the pension system like other doctors working in the city hospitals.

When healthcare reform was carried out in recent years, which brought greater benefits to rural residents, these doctors seemed to be left behind. Mass petitions by village doctors were reported in many areas across the country, calling for greater respect and equal welfare with urban counterparts.

When village doctors were invited to meet Li Keqiang in January this year, one made his concerns very clear, namely a lack of training opportunities, inadequate facilities, great risk, low income and no pension.

In truth, the authorities have been trying to address these problems in recent years.

"They made just several hundred yuan a month. If they were treated the same way as village teachers (many included in government pay roll), many problems would have been solved," said Minister of Health Chen Zhu at the annual session of the National People's Congress in 2009 (NPC).

According to a report by the China News Service on January 25, the Ministry of Health said pilot programs for village doctors under contract will be carried out in some areas, and special subsidies will be provided while a pension system will be established.

No ordinary day

Zhang often drives his car to visit villagers, to make sure they take their injections on time or to carry out physical examinations.

The director of the town's hospital once joked to Zhang that even though his petrol costs aren't covered, he still uses his car for the job, recalled Zhang.

As far as he's concerned, the job requires enthusiasm and patience, but it's all worth it because it places him right at the center of the country's healthcare system, straddling both towns and villages.

These sub-divisions were meant to ensure that common ailments would be handled at the village level, with patients only visiting larger hospitals for more serious problems.

Zhang graduated from a clinic school in Yan'an after studying three years there. He has been a village doctor since 2000. "Within these years, I've learned a lot but I still need to keep learning to be a qualified doctor," he said.

Zhang can cure some common diseases such as colds and stomach bugs, but he cooperates with the local town hospital to promote the practice of State-run programs.

Urging villagers to have free medical examinations is a challenge. "Villagers usually value farm work more than their health," he said, adding that it's normal for him to turn to elderly people's children for help to persuade their parents to go to the hospital.

Working hard also takes a toll on doctors' relationships with their families. For Shi, some of his relatives think he does not care about family, as he is often late for relatives' weddings or funerals due to so much of his time being taken up with receiving patients.

Bleak retirement

Shi's colleague, Shi Shihong who worked in a nearby village, died at the age of 80 before the Spring Festival. His wish was also to improve the condition of retired village doctors.

Gu Linhai, a village doctor who had worked for over 40 years, has been living with cerebral palsy for a decade. Now he only gets 160 yuan a year as a pension, according to Shi.

Shi said his living conditions are much better than those of his colleagues who work in remote areas of the countryside, and therefore he has no excuse to give up his job, despite accepting conditions too forbidding for most.

【1】 【2】

We Recommend:

'Wedding' for two old men in Beijing

$16,000 splash to be washed emperor-style

So sleepy on way home in Spring Festival travel rush

Sweetest moment of 'mother-to-be'

Parents keep son alive with DIY ventilator

China's weekly story (2013.01.27-01.31)

Chinese New Year in country fair

A Taiwan student’s adventure in Beijing

Wedding planner: dealing with 'happiness' and 'love'

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:WangXin、Chen Lidan)

Related Reading

Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. Female sailors hold combat positions

  2. Chinese flotilla sets sail on escort missions

  3. Highlights of Madrid Fashion Show

  4. China's weekly story (2013.2.8-2.15)

  5. Beauties at Beijing Film Academy enrollment site

  6. Fact check on Russian meteorite crash

  7. Happy big brother has birthday cake

  8. Chocolate fantasy park offers entertainment

  9. 3D printing reshapes manufacturing

  10. HK Disney's 1st profit since opening

Most Popular


  1. The weakening yen's impact on China
  2. Young climbers aim too high in China
  3. China Focus: Festive traditions disrupt green efforts
  4. Chinese distrust strangers, lack shared values
  5. How to face wrestling's removal from Olympics?
  6. Discontents of demography
  7. Online ambitions could elude mid-level brands
  8. Human rights progress as a matter of fact
  9. Millions on the move
  10. US to withdraw from Middle East?

What’s happening in China

Auto-chat app sparks social skills concern: A littile yellow chicken can talk, really?

  1. Paid leave seen as tourism boost
  2. Pressure leaves millions exposed to suicide risk
  3. 5 buried in SW China landslide
  4. Psy attracts 9 million followers on Sina Weibo
  5. Child defecating in airplane causes outrage