International ties

Chinese hospitals scare Indians

By Geeta Kochhar (
Updated: 2011-05-31 16:04
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In India, no medicine is prescribed for this disease, and Neem leaves (印度楝树) would form the bed on the ground, and coconut water and other light drinks would be a must; while the Chinese treatment was serving eggs for breakfast and chicken dishes for lunch. Both eggs and chicken would be banned as they are considered to be hot in nature, aggravating the problem. I realized the major difference in treatments then.

Years have passed but nothing much has changed except the high cost of medication in China.

People fear getting unwell and prefer home medication to seeing a doctor. Even today when I catch a cold, the first reaction of my landlord was to get an IV (输液). I am unsure why, but this seems to be a cure for all problems. Besides, I realize Chinese love to swallow a large number of antibiotics for minor ailments.

The other day I fell on the stairs and got an ankle sprain. Visiting a doctor was natural to be sure there was no fracture. The doctor prescribed a list of medicines, which sounded like 16 tablets a day. Unless a person has a severe disease, Indian doctors will not prescribe a bundle of medicines; rather the stress would be on eating healthy food and drinks.

Needless to question the amount of money spent on medications in China, I understood the essence of "kan bing nan" (看病难)  or "expensive and difficult to see a doctor" in China. The choices of medicines are so limited in China that I miss my alternative medical treatments. In particular, homeopathy in India has become quite popular for its lower cost and limited side effects; while traditional medicines along with various kinds of physiotherapy techniques are taking front row. But Western medication is still the main treatment for all potential diseases.

The main issue that hits hard is the lack of free or charitable medical institutions that can cater to the poor. India in this regard has its advantage due to many such institutions running at religious places along with individual initiatives. One can easily find a medical treatment near one's place to help the needy.

Is it due to lack of such institutions that one now finds many people with illness begging on Chinese streets or is it the scariness of Chinese treatment that makes them run away?

Dr. Geeta Kochhar is a Visiting Fellow at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. She is an Assistant Professor at the Center for Chinese & South-East Asian Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the China Daily website.

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