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Medical Care in the People's Republic of China

Victor W. Sidel, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1975;135(7):916-926. doi:10.1001/archinte.1975.00330070038006.
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In 1949, at the conclusion of what our Chinese hosts called the Liberation, the health status of China's people was among the poorest in the world. Health statistics for this period are unobtainable or at best unreliable, but the problems are qualitatively well known. Disease resulting from malnutrition, such as pellagra, scurvy, ostemalacia, beriberi, and nutritional edema were widespread, and death from frank starvation was not uncommon. Endemic or epidemic infectious diseases like cholera, smallpox, typhoid fever, typhus, venereal disease, tuberculosis, trachoma, plague, and leprosy ravaged the population. Infestations of schistosomiasis, hookworm disease, malaria, and other parasitic diseases were found in many areas. The crude death rate was about 25 per 1,000 annually, more than twice that of the technologically developed countries at the time. The infant mortality rate was estimated to be about 200 deaths in the first year of life for every 1,000 live births; in other words,


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