Health Care in Guangzhou

Quality healthcare choices are available in Guangzhou, and a few of them are up to international standards offering advanced medical facilities and doctors with Western training. Unexpectedly, a few of them require membership fees in order to get treatment. Such fees can be settled on a restricted basis and are occasionally discounted. On the other hand, public hospitals are not up to standard, and should be avoided as much as possible.

If you happen to require medical care while visiting the city and are looking for English-speaking staff to better understand your needs, the following facilities are recommended:

Tap water is not considered potable in the city, so you should opt to buy bottled water which is available everywhere and relatively cheap. Sanitation at many eateries and street hawkers may be questionable so you need to make a bit of research where to eat lest you end up scrambling for a capsule of Loperamide. As a rule, select busy restaurants with lots of patrons coming in and out, and eat freshly cooked food.

There are no particular vaccinations necessary when you land in Guangzhou, but you may be required to present papers of your yellow fever vaccination if you just came from a region where the disease is endemic. Certainly, what you need to have is a flu shot prior to your visit to the city, especially during the hot and rainy summer months. Remember that Guangzhou is the hotbed of SARS, bird flu (H5N1 virus) and A(H1N1) fever. Not to scare you, though, and the most recent outbreak of SARS was April 2004 while the bird flu was last reported in 2009. The city has certainly taken great strides in cleaning up especially towards the run up of the 2010 Asian Games. Just avoid crowded places especially markets selling live animals such as poultry and civet cats. These animals are said to be the transmitters of the disease to humans.

Spitting has been a problem in Guangzhou, and even the whole of China, and the city has taken extreme measures to stop people from this practice. A code of civilized etiquette was introduced to prohibit people from spitting. If homeowners of government subsidized apartments are caught frequently spitting, tossing cigarette and dumping trash in the hallways, the local housing authority will evict them from their apartments. A scoring system took effect where each flat was given 20 points, and one point is deducted every time a resident is caught with an offense. On an internet poll, majority of the respondents agreed with the system and surprisingly, or not surprisingly, almost 50% did not accept spitting to be an offense.

With the economic revolution in China come more opportunities for social liberties that also lead to a sexual revolution of sorts. There are now approximately 500,000 to 1.5 million of HIV cases in China, and Guangzhou being a city of 12 million people certainly has its fair share of the scourge. Prostitution and intravenous drug use are two main causes of the spread.

As always practice caution and common sense when in a foreign land. Don’t forget your small bag that contains all your travel medical essentials such as over the counter drugs for minor ailments like headaches and stomach problems. Medicines and syringes for your ailments need to have your doctor’s prescription note. Medical insurance will be your best friend when the time comes that you need medical care. Make sure that it covers your trip to Guangzhou.

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