- About Us
- Our Work
- Work With MSF
- Public Events
- Press Room
MSF in China, 2011
All articles on China »
Floods caused damage and displaced thousands of people in various regions of China, and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams assisted the emergency response.
In China, emergencies caused by extreme weather events are frequent. The country is hit several times a year by severe flooding, landslides, typhoons or earthquakes. Over the past 10 years, China has improved its responses to natural disasters; however, significant gaps remain, particularly in terms of providing adequate food and relief to those most in need.
In 2011, MSF sent teams to assist after major floods struck central and southern parts of the country. They supplied relief items such as tents, plastic sheeting and cooking kits to 3,860 families in Xincheng county and Gaosui in Guangxi province, Wangmo county in Guizhou, and Baiyi in Sichuan province.
Unequal access to healthcare
With the transition to a market economy, the healthcare system has been undergoing significant changes. Market incentives and decreased government funding have affected the quality of care. Fewer people are using public services, and this has resulted in further decreases in funding. The overall effect of these changes has been to increase out-of-pocket expenditure for healthcare to the extent that, for many, it is no longer affordable – particularly in impoverished rural areas where annual household income is less than US$475.
People from poor rural areas are therefore flocking to wealthy cities to find work, but here they also have problems accessing health services, due to a complex resident registration system and social discrimination. Even when access is available, the quality of care varies dramatically, depending on the socioeconomic status of the patient.
Migrants comprise 43 percent of the population of Guangzhou city, Guangdong province. Guangzhou has also drawn hundreds of thousands of immigrants from across Africa in the last decade. Migrants from rural areas are not granted social security in cities and their access to vital public services such as education and medical care is restricted.
Many migrant women make a living as commercial sex workers, and the lack of healthcare combined with the rapidly growing commercial sex trade has led to a huge increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the city. In 2010, the Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five female sex workers had an STI. In 2012, MSF plans to set up a program offering basic healthcare in Guangzhou, focusing particularly on STIs.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 15 field staff in China. MSF has been working in the country since 1988.