Journal Article

China's Heath Care System and Avian Influenza Preparedness

Joan A. Kaufman

in The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 197, issue Supplement_1, pages S7-S13
Published in print February 2008 | ISSN: 0022-1899
Published online February 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6613 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1086/524990
China's Heath Care System and Avian Influenza Preparedness

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The severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis exposed serious deficiencies in China's public health system and willingness to report outbreaks of threats to public health. Consequently, China may be one of the weak links in global preparedness for avian influenza. China's rural health care system has been weakened by 20 years of privatization and fiscal decentralization. China plays a huge role in the global poultry industry, with a poultry population of 14 billion birds, 70%–80% of which are reared in backyard conditions. Although surveillance has been strengthened, obstacles to the timely reporting of disease outbreaks still exist. The weakened health care system prevents many sick people from seeking care at a health care facility, where reporting would originate. Inadequate compensation to farmers for culled birds leads to nonreporting, and local officials may be complicit if they suspect that reporting might lead to economic losses for their communities. At the local level, China's crisis-management ability and multisectoral coordination are weak. The poor quality of infection control in many rural facilities is a serious and well-documented problem. However, traditions of community political mobilization suggest that the potential for providing rural citizens with public health information is possible when mandated from the central government. Addressing these issues now and working on capacity issues, authority structures, accountability, and local reporting and control structures will benefit the control of a potential avian influenza outbreak, as well as inevitable outbreaks of other emerging infectious diseases in China's Pearl River Delta or in other densely populated locations of animal husbandry in China.

Journal Article.  5181 words. 

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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