Basic Health Information for Living in Shenzhen and China

Hospitals & clinics in Shenzhen vary in quality, consistency and specialties offered. Quality control is applied inconsistently in China compared to European, Hong Kong  or North American standards. Practitioners with English language skills are the exception rather than the norm.

Most Hospitals in Shenzhen:

1. Require payment or deposit in cash on admission, either to emergency department or for out-patient care.

2. Don’t offer appointments, not even for specialists. One will have to show up and find out if a doctor is available. Many specialties commonly practiced in other countries may not exist in China (Physiotherapists, General Practitioners, Doctors or Osteopathy, and Chiropractics to name a few).

3. Overall appearance, cleanliness and privacy can be poor depending on facility. Nursing support is limited to specified medical care and patients are often expected to provide their own bedside support, such as bathing and meals.

4. Traditional Chinese Medicine practice (herbal medicines, massage, acupuncture) is still incorporated in many practitioners training and a large part of most clinic  and hospital practice. Although separate from “Western” practice, it is offered and reflects the interpretation and practices of many “Western-trained” Chinese doctors.

For long-term expatriates and for newcomers to Shenzhen, International SOS recommends the following:

1. Make sure one has medical insurance in place (plan coverage details and payment options; process of filing claims and reimbursement; are evacuations & repatriations covered, etc.);

2. Make sure one has had all vaccinations required and up-to-date;

3. Learn as much as possible about the area you live;

-climate peculiarities (altitude, seasonal changes, potentially risky animals and insects);

-pay a visit to a few local hospitals, know their addresses, emergency entrance, etc.;

-find out if dental/pediatric services are available in the area;

4. Have first aid kit handy that is stocked with appropriate medications if not available locally;

5. Ensure one has enough specific/prescribed medication supply from the home country;

6. Carry an information card/note, written in both English and a local language with you, along with your name, basic medical information (blood type, allergies, etc.) and emergency contact phone numbers;

7. When traveling, have reliable means of communication;

8. Make sure that all documents/visas are valid and in place;

9. Keep emergency numbers readily available (ambulance, police, fire);

10. Plan your itinerary carefully, have your documents (ID, insurance policy records, medical records) copied and saved, so, in an emergency or if documents are lost, someone can get access to them and retrieve necessary information;

11. Ensure that people who work and travel with you (family, driver or office assistant) know how to seek medical assistance as they may be the only people able to help you when in need.

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The Contributor

Shenzhen resident since 2004, Jonathan has enjoyed careers in Art, Nursing, Clinic mangement. Comes from New York, and is on a mission to bring bagels to Shenzhen.

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