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Chinese migrants pose unique health challenges

31st October 2008

China’s 140 million migrants are generally in better health than the rest of the population, according to The Lancet. But that’s because younger, healthier people are the most likely to leave their villages to seek better-paid work in a more urban setting - and when serious illness strikes, they go home.

"In essence, the countryside is exporting good health and reimporting ill-health," the authors wrote in a special issue of The Lancet devoted entirely to health care in the world’s largest country.

"Migrants are largely excluded from urban services, including access to public health," they wrote. "Migrants, therefore, do not qualify for public medical insurance and assistance programmes, and have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for medical services in cities."
Health care in China has long focused on infectious diseases, maternal health, and occupational health and injuries as they relate to the fast-growing migrant population.  Migrants’ mental and behavioural health, and their health risk perception, deserve more attention in future, the authors argue.

 

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