Health in China and India: A cross-country comparison in a context of rapid globalisation
China and India are similarly huge nations currently experiencing rapid economic growth, urbanisation and widening inequalities between rich and poor. They are dissimilar in terms of their political regimes, policies for population growth and ethnic composition and heterogeneity. This review compares health and health care in China and India within the framework of the epidemiological transition model and against the backdrop of globalisation. We identify similarities and differences in health situation. In general, for both countries, infectious diseases of the past sit alongside emerging infectious diseases and chronic illnesses associated with ageing societies, although the burden of infectious diseases is much higher in India. Whilst globalisation contributes to widening inequalities in health and health care in both countries - particularly with respect to increasing disparities between urban and rural areas and between rich and poor - there is evidence that local circumstances are important, especially with respect to the structure and financing of health care and the implementation of health policy. For example, India has huge problems providing even rudimentary health care to its large population of urban slum dwellers whilst China is struggling to re-establish universal rural health insurance. In terms of funding access to health care, the Chinese state has traditionally supported most costs, whereas private insurance has always played a major role in India, although recent changes in China have seen the burgeoning of private health care payments. China has, arguably, had more success than India in improving population health, although recent reforms have severely impacted upon the ability of the Chinese health care system to operate effectively. Both countries are experiencing a decline in the amount of government funding for health care and this is a major issue that must be addressed.
Volume (Year): 67 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
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