China Faces Massive Pediatrician Shortage & Reveals Vulnerable Underpinnings of a Shifting World

Jul 16, 2019 | Chinese Health System, Pediatrician, Shortage

China Faces Massive Pediatrician Shortage, Reveals Vulnerable Underpinnings of a Shifting World

China has 135,525 pediatricians—that equals four doctors for every 10,000 children. This is woefully inadequate and indicates a dangerous health challenge for the world’s most populous nation and second largest economy. With growing regional disparities, conditions are undoubtedly far worse for rural western and poor regions.

Training could be one tactic taken, according to Dr. Sun Kun, president of Shanghai’s Xinhua Hospital and head of research covering over 13,000 hospitals worldwide. He reports that even those pediatricians that are in the rural, western and often economically underdeveloped regions are not adequately trained in the state-of-the-art medicine. Perhaps training programs could help?

Perhaps technology—internet, telehealth platforms, etc. could help bridge the divide? This probably doesn’t cover enough ground as the second largest economy faces a severe shortage of children’s hospitals. Again, regional inequalities only serve to magnify growing polarization of class, ethnic groups and urban vs. rural cultures. Apparently an socialist philosophy leads to far greater class inequality than in the capitalistic West.

What happens to pediatricians in China? Apparently many of them quit. They start off with all the best intentions but then find they are over-worked and under-paid before undoubtedly moving into a more lucrative line of medicine, reports Shine.

What about the health ministries and the state planners? Actually, the government in good faith has desperately tried to make the situation better. 

But TrialSite News finds it ironic that a tightly controlled nation, with a purportedly egalitarian ethos, centrally planned and focused on fair and rational distribution of strategic societal resources and assets, such as children’s hospitals, has seen its healthcare system evolve in such a way that would make the inequalities of the free-wheeling, “coin-operated” U.S. health system and its associated access challenges–look tame and rather fair.

Although still communist in name, China has transformed into some new form of advanced, evolved hybrid post-industrial society—loaded with extremely prosperous rich urban easterners; possibly the world’s largest middle class, and a dirt-poor rural west. Perhaps some in China can relate to the classical English novelist who wrote about another divided time–in Paris–when he emphatically penned: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It just depends on what side of the country you are living, in the case of the Middle Kingdom.


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