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Home >> Tibet Travel Guide >> Tibet Public Health

Tibet Public Health

Tibet Public health There were no modern medical and healthcare institutions before peaceful liberalization. The PLA initiated public health undertakings once they had peacefully liberated Tibet in 1951. For more than half a century, the State has allocated a total of 1.8 billion Yuan to develop medical and health undertakings in the region. Other fraternal provinces (cities) also provide assistance to the TAR, dispatching 35 groups of medical teams and 363 medical workers, donating medical and healthcare equipment worth nearly seven million Yuan, helping build the Infectious Diseases Hospital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Pharmaceutical Factory of Tibetan Medicine of the Tibet Autonomous Region, In-Patient Department of Lhasa People¡¯s Hospital, reproductive health training center of the TAR and rebuilding or extending hospitals of seven prefectures including Nyingchi, Xigaze, Shannan, Ngari, Qamdo, Nagqu and Lhasa. According to statistics, at the end of 2005, the Tibet Autonomous Region had 1,378 medical institutions, including 763 hospitals and clinics, 79 disease prevention organs, and 55 centers for the healthcare of women and children. They had 6,767 beds for the sick, including 4,426 hospital beds. The number of medical and technical workers reached 8,913, including 3,575 licensed doctors. The number of beds for the sick and the number of healthcare workers reached 2.44 beds and 3.22 persons respectively per 1,000 people. All these elements have initially formed a relatively good public health service network at county, township and village levels as well as a disease prevention and medical assistance system.

Hospital Beds and Medical Workers

Unit: Bed/person


Number of Beds

Medical Workers

Number of Beds Owned by Every 1000 People

Number of Medical Workers for? Every 1000 People


























With constant improvement in medical and health conditions, the incidence of such infectious diseases and endemics as variola, cholera, venereal disease, macula, scarlatina and tetanus has decreased to 8 per thousand, and some have vanished. Tibet has provided children with vaccination for six consecutive years, and reported no case of poliomyelitis for seven consecutive years.

At the same time, maternity and childcare, family planning and primary health care with agricultural and pastoral areas as the principal focus have also developed rapidly with drastic improvements in the structure and quality. As a result, the death rate of women in childbirth has dropped from 50 per thousand before the Democratic Reform in 1959 to around 7 per thousand, while infant mortality plunged from 430 per thousand to 6.61 per thousand. The proportion of elderly people in the population has risen to 4.5 percent from 4.36 percent. According to statistics, there are more than 200,000 people above the age of 60 with people above the age of 65 totaling 118,000, accounting for eight percent and 4.5 percent respectively of the total population. The average life expectancy of Tibetans has been prolonged from 35.5 years five decades ago to the present 67 years.

Medicare System in Agricultural and Pastoral Areas

Tibet Public health Beginning in 1998, the Health Department of the Tibet Autonomous Region introduced a medicare system in Gyangze and Nyingchi counties on a trial basis. This medicare system in Tibet centers on risk pooling for serious diseases. Farmers and herders participate in the system on a voluntary basis. Governments at various levels, collectives and individuals raise the necessary funds. Thus far, all agricultural and pastoral areas in Tibet have been included in the system, with over 80 percent of farmers and herders participating.

During the period from 2001 to 2005, Tibet allocated 800 million Yuan to medical care undertakings in agricultural and pastoral areas through central financial assistance and financial arrangements at all levels in the autonomous region, greatly enhancing infrastructure conditions in these areas. In 2005 alone, the special free medical service funds allocated by central financial assistance and local financial arrangements reached 188 million Yuan, with per-capita funds rising to 80 Yuan from less than 15 Yuan in 1998, greatly easing the economic burden on farmers and herders regarding medical care. Moreover, the TAR has allocated special funds to equip medicare institutions with essential medical equipment helping guarantee the smooth development of work on preventing endemic and infectious diseases.

To supplement the medicare system for the farming and livestock breeding areas, the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has worked out and implemented the Interim Provisions on Providing Medical Assistance to the Destitute Masses in Agricultural and Pastoral Areas. According to the provisions, people enjoying the five guarantees (childless and infirm old persons who are guaranteed food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses) shall get fees they have to pay for medical treatment reimbursed according to the medicare system for the agricultural and pastoral areas, with the remainder reimbursed in the form of medical assistance; and people who are incapable of labor, without means of livelihood, or without family support, or people the elderly, handicapped, the junior and the sick who suffer from serious deseases and therefore have to pay high fees for medical treatment, shall get fees for medical treatment reimbursed according to the said provisions, and receive medical assistance from local civil departments in the case when the amount of feel that could be reimbursed is set at 3,000 Yuan or when they are not entitled to reimbursement and have spent more than 300 Yuan. The funds for the medical assistance system are collected through extra financial support by central finance, local revenue and the medical fund of agricultural and pastoral areas (at a rate of 5 percent). Such a policy integrates the reality of Tibet, guarantees the basic needs of the destitute, reflecting the popularization and justness of medical and healthcare services, conducive to tackling problems of illness caused by poverty.

During the period 2006-2010, the TAR will allocate 5.8 billion Yuan to medical care and continue to give priority to agricultural and pastoral areas, and further improve the free medical care system, raising the per-capita free medical service fund from 80 Yuan to 130 Yuan. At the same time, Tibet is also strengthening the building of the medical service system in agricultural and pastoral areas, and improving the service level of counties and townships so as to form up the medical system of promoting townships with counties, establishing and perfecting the long-term mechanism of preventing endemic and infectious diseases, implementing comprehensive measures against major infectious diseases, Iodine Deficiency Disorders, Kaschin-Beck Disease, and glaucoma. Tibet aims to reduce the overall incidence rate of infectious disease, realizing no reported case of glaucoma, and raising the coverage rate of iodized salt to 85 percent.

Tibetan Medicine

Tibetan medicine is regarded as an important component of Chinese ethnic medicine, as a part of Tibetan traditional culture. The TAR has always supported and developed Tibetan medicine as a type of characteristic industry of the national economy. In 1959, it established Lhasa Tibetan Medicine Hospital, which later became the Tibet Autonomous Region Tibetan Medicine Hospital, the regional teaching and research center for Tibetan medicine. The State earmarked over 20 million Yuan for setting up a new in-patient building for the Tibetan Medicine Hospital of TAR, building new Tibetan hospitals in another six districts and seven counties, and establishing Tibetan medicine departments in more than 60 county-level hospitals.

The Tibetan Medical School launched in 1984 together with the Tibetan medicine department initiated within Tibet University in 1985 has trained and provided the whole autonomous region with a large number of educated medical personnel. Great efforts have also been made in improve the professional competence of grassroots Tibetan medical workers. At present, the TAR has over 2,000 Tibetan medical workers, 19 manufacturing enterprises of Tibetan medicine, 283 Tibet medicines approved by State medical authorities, 216 Tibetan medicines and 230 Tibetan medicinal materials incorporated into the State standard, 200 Tibetan medicines and 137 Tibetan medicinal materials included in ministerial standards. The whole region produces 1,090 tons of Tibetan medicines a year.

In order to secure rapid development of Tibetan medicine, under regional government support, Tibetan medicine circles have worked to improve the formulation of traditional Tibetan medicines and promote Tibetan medicine production to a national and international advanced level while integrating international standards and domestic standards. Meanwhile, they have also adopted state-of-art technology like bioengineering, accelerating the pace of developing new drugs and helped enterprises to achieve economies of scale so as to further improve the overall strength and integrated level of Tibetan medicine¡¯s development and manufacture.

The TAR government encourages veteran doctors of Tibetan medicine to write books summarizing their precious experiences. The famous Four-Volume Medical Code has been published in a new edition along with scores of newly compiled or written teaching materials and treatises including The Complete Four-Volume Medical Code Wall Chart Series, the "Tibetan Medicine¡± volume of the Encyclopedia of Medicine, Tibetan Medicine Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Bromatology, and the New Compilation of Tibetan Medicine. Champa Trinle, current head of the TAR Hospital of Tibetan Medicine and honorary head of the Tibetan Medicine Academy, has been in charge of the compilation of the ¡°Wall Charts for Four-Volume Medical Code¡± (in Tibetan-Chinese and Tibetan-English versions), the first teaching wall chart in the history of Tibetan medicine. In addition, his Biographies of Various Generations of Tibetan Medical Experts and On the Four-Volume Medical Code have filled a blank in this field and were awarded first prize and bronze medal respectively in the appraisal of Chinese medical history documents in 1991.

In 2005, the TAR government began to make preparations to build a research academy of Tibetan medicine and a research building of Tibetan medicine, allocating five million Yuan to equip them with necessary appliances. The conditions for establishing the research academy of Tibetan medicine matured in 2006, and its establishment will play an important role in promoting the characteristic industry of Tibetan medicine.

Tibetan medicine has won a worldwide reputation. Research institutes on Tibetan medicine have been built in more than 30 countries including the United States, Japan, Switzerland and Germany. The world congress on Tibetan medicine has been held four times since 1983.

Beijing Tibetan Medicine Hospital

To the south of the Asian Games Village in Beijing stands a famous modern Tibetan building, the Beijing Tibetan Medicine hospital, the only State-class ethnic hospital throughout China. Launched in 1992, it has a constructed area of 12,000 sq m, possessing 150 beds for the sick and 158 healthcare workers.

The Beijing Tibetan Medicine Hospital has specialized out-patient departments concentrating on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, atrophic gastritis, hepatobiliary diseases and Tibetan herbal bathing. A group of experts on Tibetan medicine also came from Lhasa and Shannan as medical staff. Nowadays, more and more people know Tibetan medicine. Beijing Tibetan Medicine Hospital provides medical and health care services for people of all ethnic groups, as well as for patients from both at home and abroad.

The Beijing Tibetan Medicine Hospital follows the road of combining traditional Tibetan medical practices with modern medical facilities such as CT, color Doppler, and gastroscope, and has established a center of telecommuting consultation. With a view to inheriting and further developing the cultural heritage of Tibetan medicine, Beijing Tibetan Medicine Hospital collaborates with other institutions throughout the country to carry out scientific research. Moreover, it also undertakes the tasks of clinical teaching for the Tibet Medicine Department of the Central University for Nationalities, training masters and doctorate candidates majoring in Tibetan medicine.

The establishment and development of Beijing Tibetan Medicine Hospital reflects the great importance the State attaches to continuing and carrying forward Tibet¡¯s excellent traditional culture, and also conveys the great support from the State in preserving, sorting and promoting Tibet¡¯s excellent traditional culture.
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