THE HEALTH OF CHINA: Current Conflicts in Medical and Human Services for One Billion People by Ruth & Victor W. Sidel Sidel

THE HEALTH OF CHINA: Current Conflicts in Medical and Human Services for One Billion People

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The Sidels (Women and Child Care in China, 1972; A Healthy State, 1978) have chosen health and medical services as their window on Chinese society, but the window opens to allow a panoramic view of education (amplified in a chapter by son Mark), the status of women, marriage, and the family. It is, as they see it, a remarkable view. China not only went from infectious disease and starvation to the heart disease, cancer, and stroke profile of Western society in 32 years, but also totally changed its priorities in midstream. The Sidels use the phrase ""from Red to expert"" to describe the pendulum swing from the political egalitarianism of the Cultural Revolution (with its abandonment of higher education and enforced moves from urban to rural areas) to the adoption of new high academic standards, grades, tests, and competition for placement. How does a country of a billion people go from rags to drab to potential riches? And should it? These are the questions the Sidels raise and partially answer. China's storied bureaucracy and common heritage in social morality and family structure served the Revolution well in accomplishing the public health measures and disease prevention that so rapidly turned around the morbidity and mortality statistics. Later, the rallying cry of the Cultural Revolution reinforced China's traditional isolation from the rest of the world. Now, however, China is coming to grips with the need to make progress by capitalizing on Western ideas and technology--without itself becoming capitalist. The Sidels worry about the dangers of an elitism that would revive the old Mandarin distinction between those who know and those who do. They worry about inequities between farm and city, rich and poor. They worry about the loss of women's newfound status, about environmental health and industrial pollution. They conclude, however, on an optimistic note, feeling that China may be able to resolve the complex problems, so that appropriate technology may exist side by side with hi tech and a better standard of living for all emerge. By no means a critical study--but usefully sympathetic and informed.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Beacon